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

|News, Sexual offences

A major programme of work to narrow the gap between reported rapes and those which reach court is underway at the Crown Prosecution Service as part of an ambitious five-year plan to drive confidence in the justice system.

This summer saw the launch of RASSO 2025 - the CPS strategy on rape and serious sexual offences but underpinning this is wide ranging work to interrogate the issues around prosecuting these crimes with a focus on driving long lasting improvements.

Siobhan Blake, CPS rape lead said:

“Every offence of rape or serious sexual assault represents a personal tragedy for the people affected by it.

“The CPS shares the deep public concern that while the number of RASSO reports to the police have increased in recent years, the number of cases going to court has fallen.

“Working with police and stakeholders, there is a huge focus on understanding the reasons for the fall. We all agree that finding the best way forward, is urgent and necessary. We have supported the development of the cross-Government Rape Review and are taking targeted action to narrow the gap.

“Tackling such complex and serious crimes requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach and the CPS role is absolutely vital, but only forms one part of a meaningful solution.”

The CPS has already set in motion a number of changes to provide a better service for victims of rape and serious sexual offences and increase prosecution rates.

In October updated legal guidance was published to address harmful myths and stereotypes. Clear, up to date guidance is crucial to help specialist prosecutors make fair and effective decisions and make sure that justice is delivered in every case for victims and alleged perpetrators.

Local initiatives across the 14 CPS regions are already underway to improve joint CPS and Police working. This includes much earlier contact with police on their investigation and a focus on improving file quality. Some areas have introduced triage clinics to look at cases and this has already both reduced delays for victims awaiting a decision and helped increased the number of charges for rape and serious sexual offences.

A joint action plan is being developed between the CPS and police to collectively drive improvements in RASSO investigations. As part of this, our expert prosecutors are working closely with the police on how we can better support victims, improve casework quality and progression, as well as increase expertise on these complex crimes.

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