10 Per Cent Rise in South Yorkshire's Rape Conviction Rate

02/02/2010

The CPS's pledge to improve the conviction rate in rape cases has come to fruition as South Yorkshire sees nearly three quarters of all rape cases charged in the area lead to convictions – the highest conviction rate nationally.

72.4% (55) of rape prosecutions last year led to a conviction compared to 61.8% in the previous year in South Yorkshire 14.7% above the national average this year.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Naheed Hussain said: "Over recent years we have worked incredibly hard to improve the rape conviction rate and ensure that victims are supported throughout the prosecution process. The current figures show the impact this drive has had.

"We have trained a number of our prosecutors to specialise in this field. They work closely with the investigating officer from an early stage of the investigation to ensure that in cases where the evidence is available, the strongest possible case can be put before the court.

"We also offer more practical support to the victims of such ordeals to tackle their concerns and help address any fears they may have.

"In most rape cases the victim will know the perpetrator; it may be a partner or ex-partner. The attack usually happens behind closed doors where there are no victims. Whilst in some cases we can rely on forensic or other evidence, proving that the act was not consensual may be an issue so the victims account of events becomes crucial.

"This can seem like a daunting and distressing prospect so its essential that we work with them to manage expectations and offer support to address their concerns.

"There is all kinds of support available. This could include anything from offering the complainant a pre-trial visit to the courtroom so they get a feel of what to expect in the courtroom to applying to the court for steps to be taken to prevent the defendant and the victim being able to see each other. We regularly apply for screens to be erected around the witness box to block the view of the defendant or for the victim to give their evidence from another room via TV link.

"These may seem like small steps but they can mean the difference between whether a victim is willing to give evidence or not.

"Those subjected to such an offence are now far more likely than ever to see this result in a conviction."