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Rape and Sexual Offences - Chapter 11: The Trial

This guidance is currently out for consultation - see sidebar|Legal Guidance, Sexual offences

PLEASE NOTE - INTERIM GUIDANCE: APPLIES FROM 1 NOVEMBER 2020

The Brief to the Advocate

It is essential that the brief to the advocate contains detailed information covering all relevant issues contained in the Rape Prosecutions Advice/Review Checklist and highlight any key information, which is relevant to any sentencing hearing.

A conference with the trial advocate, the officer in the case, the forensic physician, and any other expert witnesses should be arranged at the earliest possible opportunity.

Wherever possible the instructed advocate should conduct all hearings including defence applications for bail and other interlocutory hearings. This is of particular importance when conducting ground rules hearings and section 28 pre-recorded cross examination. Where they are not available another accredited advocate from the same Chambers (or a CPS rape specialist in the case of an in-house HCA) should conduct the hearing having been briefed by the instructed advocate.

Chambers’ clerks must consult with the CPS about the suitability of alternative counsel whenever a brief is returned. This is particularly important in rape and child abuse cases or where the victim is particularly vulnerable.

Where no such alternative advocate is available, a non-accredited advocate (or non-rape specialist HCA) may be instructed but only with the prior approval of the CPS.

Speaking to Witnesses at Court

All advocates are expected to be aware and comply with the CPS guidance on Speaking to Witnesses at Court.

Independent Sexual Advisors (ISVAs)

An ISVAs main role is to provide practical and emotional support and information to survivors of rape and sexual violence who have reported to the police or are considering reporting. There are many organisations that provide these services and details by area can be found on the Survivors Trust Website.

Guidance on supporting victims can be found within the MoJ publication Achieving Best Evidence in chapter 4. Decisions as to whether the ISVA should support the victim whilst the ABE interview is being recorded should be taken on a case by case basis. It should be explained to the victim that if their ISVA is involved in the interview as a supporter, then they can’t be involved further on down the line with memory refreshment  (paragraph 4.1 of Achieving Best Evidence) or in court as a supporter while the witness gives evidence (paragraph 4.17)

Further reading

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