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CPS London hosts first Independent Sexual Violence Advisors Day

|News, Sexual offences

CPS London has held its first ever joint Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) Day bringing together professionals in the field across the capital to discuss collaboration and ways to improve the service provided to victims.

ISVAs are trained to provide emotional and practical support to survivors of rape, sexual abuse and sexual assault. Their work is a vital service and the event aimed to draw from their expertise to better serve Londoners.

The inaugural event, held virtually on Thursday 10 December, allowed ISVAs and the CPS to discuss a number of subjects including early investigative advice and communicating with victims, as well as myths around pre-trial therapy and corroborating evidence.

Jonathan Wettreich, Senior District Crown Prosecutor from the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit in London North, said: “This was an insightful day that allowed us to take the first steps in fostering relations with ISVAs in London. The discussions were both informative and candid, and will set us in good stead to draw on our collective expertise, experiences and strengths going forward to deliver better outcomes for survivors of sexual violence.”

Around 60 people attended the day which included sessions on the role and remit of ISVAs, as well as the recently rolled out s28 special measure allowing vulnerable or intimidated witnesses to have their cross examination pre-recorded. 

The event fits into our five-year blueprint, the RASSO 2025 strategy, aimed at helping us in the CPS to understand and reduce the gap between reported cases of sexual violence and those which come to court. In addition, the strategy aims to drive improvements in case handling across the justice system by better partnership-working to remove any barriers to justice.

Cate Baccas, Senior District Crown Prosecutor from the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit in London South, said: “Meeting with London’s highly-skilled and passionate ISVAs allowed us to really consider the different needs of victims at various stages of the criminal justice process. It also gave us the opportunity to speak to ISVAs about our work and what options we could make available to help survivors of sexual violence. We were able to take away a number of constructive reflections which we hope to build on following the success of London’s first ISVA Day.”

A spokesperson from the London Survivors Gateway said: “Our team of advocates were really positive about the day and discussions had. We are now looking forward to the changes we can all make together because in the end, it is about honest relationships and good communication.”

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