CPS Wessex prosecutions for violence against women and girls increases by 401 cases in 2010-11

24/11/2011

Wessex Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, Kate Brown, explains the increases in the number of procecutions for Violence Against Women and Girls in the Area for the year 2010/11

Wessex Crown Prosecution Service, which consists of Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight and Wiltshire, has seen its prosecutions for Violence Against Women and Girls increase by 401 cases in 2010/11.

As the CPS has published its Violence against Women and Girls Crime Report for 2010/11, Wessex Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, Kate Brown, said: "We have seen this year not only a rise in the number of violence against women and girls (VAWG) cases being prosecuted in our Area but also an increase of our overall number of convictions.

"This means that we are heading toward the right direction as more cases are reported to the police. This also shows that we are getting positive results thanks to our close work with local criminal justice partners.

"We are getting better at building cases with the police, which as resulted in our Area in an increase in the numbers of guilty pleas, which not only means cases are dealt with more quickly, but the victim is spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court.

"We also listen with great care to feedback from our Scrutiny and Involvement Panels members who review our hate crime and VAWG cases to see whether decisions made by us were sound. We also ensure that actions are taken following concerns raised by them.

"Our panel members have seen a substantial improvement of the letters that we write to our victims when explaining our charging decisions as a direct result of issues raised by them.

"However, this good work does not take away the fact that victims of domestic violence, rape, stalking and other sexual offences live in fear of their perpetrators and that the crime(s) committed against them has or have a devastating impact on their lives even after the defendant has been convicted.

"It is therefore understandable that some of them may be reluctant to give evidence or support a prosecution.

"This is why, we should not be complacent and we need to strengthen our efforts to ensure that the victims of this pernicious crime believe that our Criminal Justice System will support them appropriately.

"It is in this spirit that the Wessex Rape and Sexual Offences Unit (RASSO) was created in September. The RASSO is a dedicated team of 13 rape and sexual offences expert prosecutors supported by a team of paralegal officers and casework assistants who only deal with these particular types of crimes occurring in our three counties."

The Rasso unit was first piloted in Hampshire and Isle of Wight and it was decided that following the success of this pilot there should be one unit to provide the same expertise and a consistent approach across the Area.

The report also shows that the measures introduced to quality assure prosecutions are having an effect. In 2010, the Core Quality Standards were introduced and published to lay down the quality of service the public can expect from the CPS and a VAWG assurance mechanism has been introduced to help in monitoring the quality of case handling and continue improving consistently across the service.

Ms Brown said: "As prosecutors, it is always in our minds that we need to deliver a high quality service to the public and our communities and we hope that our effort and dedication will result next year again in an increase of the number of convictions."
 
Molly Rennie, Councillor for West Dorset District Council and member of the Dorset- Wessex Scrutiny and Involvement Operational Panel, said: "The increase in the numbers of prosecutions by CPS and the resulting increase in convictions has to show that women need not feel they will not be believed and there will be support throughout the whole process to achieve the best outcome for victims of crime against women.  No one needs to suffer in silence please report the perpetrators of theses crimes."

Fran Lewis, Executive Director for Splitz Support Service providing support for domestic violence victims and member of Wiltshire Scrutiny and Involvement Operational Panel, said: "Domestic violence is the only crime where the victim experiences repeated abuse from the same perpetrator.

"In Wiltshire we continually strive towards a co-ordinated, integrated community response to this hidden problem. All agencies have signed up to work together to ensure the safety of victims and their children has absolute priority.
I feel confident and proud that this is being reflected through the CPS systems."

End

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. For media enquiries call the CPS Wessex  Marie-Dominique Meunier, Area Communications Manager on 0238067 3809 or 07736 692578 wessex.communications@cps.gsi.gov.uk
2. For queries from national press contact 0203 357 0906 -Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
3. The report is available on the CPS website at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/CPS_VAW_report_2011.pdf
4. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
5. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Group, Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism, and Organised Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
6. The CPS employs around 8,316 people and prosecuted 982,731 cases with a conviction rate of 86.8% in the magistrates' courts and 80.7% in the Crown Court in 2009-20010. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
7. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.