New Initiative Launched to Improve Rape Prosecutions

15/12/2011

As the CPS in Yorkshire and Humberside continues to exceed the national average in successfully prosecuting rape cases, the head of the service says ‘it’s not time to rest on our laurels’. CPS Yorkshire and Humberside is currently 8% above the national average in successfully prosecuting rape cases.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Martin Goldman has introduced a new system which will see unsuccessful rape cases scrutinised by a team of experts.

The Rape Scrutiny Panel comprises representatives from eight Yorkshire-based rape support organisations.

CCP Martin Goldman said:

We are one of the best areas in the country at prosecuting rape cases, second only to the South West, but thats not to say we couldnt be better. We need to continually look to make improvements and I firmly believe that the rape scrutiny panel will go along way towards achieving this aim. 

The panel members are tasked with identifying any common themes, trends or issues which may be leading to unsuccessful outcomes.

Its essential that we learn lessons from our own actions but it can be difficult to objectively scrutinise your own work so I have called upon local specialists in this field to come together and give us an honest appraisal.

Every six months the panel comprising representatives from Victim Support, Survive and Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service amongst others will look through the files of a number of rape cases which were either dropped or resulted in an acquittal.

If we are to do this well we need to be completely open and honest and we need the same in return.

Ive met with the panel members and asked them to tell us exactly what they think. They will select the files that they would like to see and will have full access to our performance data and details of any decisions we have made on a rape case.

Their feedback will be used to inform our policies, strategies and training to ensure we continue to improve the service we offer to local people in ensuring their safety and securing justice

By improving this aspect of our work, we hope to improve victims confidence that they will be taken seriously and that the strongest possible case will be built and placed before the courts.

This is similar to the way we improved our work around hate crime. We introduced a scrutiny panel which met regularly and made recommendations. The panel identified improvements which could be made in our communications with victims and witnesses. Weve now changed our approach in line with those recommendations.

Julie Howorth, Counsellor from Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service and panel member said:

Sheffield Rape & Sexual Abuse Counselling Service is very pleased to have been invited to be part of the Rape Scrutiny Panel and feel it is a good use of the expertise and experience that we have amassed over the last 30 years of working with women and girls in Sheffield.  We feel certain that we will be able to offer an objective appraisal to help the CPS in their endeavour to further improve prosecution rates for rape.