Simon Brenchley, Head of Crown Prosecution Service Wessex Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit (RASSO) talks about the CPS’s role in prosecuting rape and serious sexual offences.

23/07/2012

“The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) takes very seriously violence against women and girls and it is a top priority for our service.

"We want anyone who has been a victim or a witness of this callous and pernicious crime to report it to the police. If there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, we will liaise very closely and pro-actively with the police to build the best possible case to take to court and to determine what types of special measures can be applied in court. We want victims of sexual offences to take advantage of all available special measures to enable them to give their best evidence in court. This can, for example, include victims having their evidence recorded on DVD and then at trial being questioned via a TV link in a separate room or from behind a screen in court.

"CPS Wessex, which includes the counties of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire, with its Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit (RASSO) has a dedicated team of specialist lawyers and staff who have all volunteered to only work on these types of crimes.

The RASSO Unit has been established since 2010 in Hampshire and since October 2011 in the whole of Wessex.

"These specialist lawyers carefully review these cases and make sure that the following myths and stereotypes have no weight in their decision to prosecute and if those myths and prejudices are raised in the courtroom, our prosecutors have been trained to challenge them robustly.

During 2011, the RASSO team prosecuted over 300 rape and serious sexual offences cases, 63% of which resulted in a conviction of some sort.

CPS Wessex always seeks to improve its service to victims and witnesses and our Hate Crime Scrutiny Panels give us invaluable feedback to continuously improve our service."

Myths and stereotypes

  • rape occurs between strangers in dark alleys;
  • victims provoke rape by the way they dress or act;
  • victims who drink alcohol or use drugs are asking to be raped;
  • rape is a crime of passion;
  • if they did not scream, fight or get injured, it was not rape;
  • you can tell if they 'really' have been raped by how they acts;
  • victims cry rape when they regret having sex or want revenge;
  • only gay men get raped/only gay men rape men; and prostitutes cannot be raped.

Prosecutors who deal with rape cases are taught about them as part of their specialist training. We will not allow these myths and stereotypes to influence our decisions and we will robustly challenge such attitudes in the courtroom.