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Significant programme of work continues at CPS to narrow the gap between reported rapes and cases which reach court

|News, Sexual offences

PROGRESS is being made on a major programme of work to narrow the gap between reported rapes and those which reach court. 

Last summer saw the launch of RASSO 2025 - the CPS strategy on rape and serious sexual offences. Underpinning this is wide ranging work to better understand and deal with the issues around prosecuting these crimes with a focus on driving long lasting improvements.

Since then further progress has been made on a number of issues which will provide a better service for victims of rape and serious sexual offences and increase prosecution rates. These include: 

  • Overcoming cultural barriers which may prevent people from ethnic minorities from pursuing a RASSO prosecution is a local and national focus. CPS staff have joined forces with local charities and community groups to better understand the impact these offences have on different communities so steps can be taken to improve their experience of the justice process.
  • Local initiatives across the various CPS regions continue to improve joint CPS and police working with a focus on earlier contact with police and file quality. Analysis has been carried out to identify which local initiatives are most effective in order to roll these out as best practice across the CPS. A number of areas including Wessex have already started seeing positive increases in the number of people charged with rape and serious sexual offences, as well as a reduction in time taken to make a decision. 
  • Updated legal guidance addressing harmful myths and stereotypes. Specialist prosecutors are using this draft guidance to make fair and effective decisions to ensure justice is delivered for victims and alleged perpetrators in every case. The consultation has closed and work is underway with stakeholders to discuss any proposed changes to the draft guidance before it’s published in spring.
  • Additional tools for prosecutors giving them the latest information about online dating to contextualise cases they deal with, including case studies, examples of evolving terms used in modern dating and a list of different dating sites. These tools enable prosecutors to address any harmful stereotypes that exist around the use of dating websites or behaviour online, so they can take into account the ‘new normal’ of meeting people when considering cases.
  • A joint action plan between the police and CPS to collectively drive improvements in RASSO is currently being consulted on with key stakeholders. This plan to better support victims and improve casework quality and progression will be published shortly.

Our expert prosecutors remain committed to prosecuting these complex cases wherever our legal test is met. Examples of cases we have prosecuted recently, including a case where there was issues with identifying the defendant and DNA evidence, can be found here

Siobhan Blake, CPS rape lead said:

“We know that behind the fall in the number of RASSO cases going to court are people who have been through a traumatic experience and may feel let down by the justice system- but we are committed to restoring their confidence.

“There is work ongoing across the CPS to understand the reasons for the fall and make the necessary improvements. From better working with police, to revised guidance and initiatives, we are doing everything we can to drive positive change.

“We are not doing this alone, the CPS has supported the development of the cross-Government Rape review and is working with police and stakeholders to tackle this complex criminal justice issue and find a meaningful solution. 

“An increased proportion of people charged for rape and serious sexual offences is a promising sign these steps are starting to make a difference, but we will continue rolling out our ambitious programme of work to deliver justice for all.”

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