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Sexual Offences

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated the law, much of which dated back to 1956.

The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

Find out more about how we prosecute sexual offences

Prosecuting crimes involving drugs

The legal restrictions placed on the use of controlled drugs are aimed at preventing drug abuse. The principal offences relating to the misuse of controlled drugs are contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Find out more about prosecution policy for drug offences

Former CPS Area Business Manager pleads guilty to sexual assault and possession of cocaine


The former Area Business Manager for the Crown Prosecution Service in Gloucestershire, William Hollins, has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years' imprisonment after he admitted two charges of sexual assault on a teenage boy aged 16 and one charge of possessing cocaine.

Mary-Clare Grant, of the CPS Special Crime Division based in York, said: "On the morning that the trial against Mr Hollins was due to start in March 2007, the defence offered guilty pleas to two charges of sexual assault and one of possession of cocaine.

"Mr Hollins had been charged with 11 counts of sexual assault on one complainant and one sexual assault on another youth. He was also charged with possessing, supplying, and being involved in supplying cocaine, and being involved in supplying cannabis.

"These were all very serious charges and we had to consider very carefully whether three guilty pleas reflected the full criminality of the behaviour."

Miss Grant said that counsel was consulted over the pleas and the two complainants of the sexual assault charges were also consulted.

She said: "Our concern was that the guilty pleas should show that there was a course of conduct, as there was more than one incident with one of the complainants. We felt that the two guilty pleas did show this, especially as one of the pleas related to the most serious of the sexual assault charges, and it meant that the complainant would not have to give evidence.

"We then had to consider whether to pursue the one charge involving the other youth and decided that, in the light of the guilty pleas, the court had adequate sentencing powers to deal with Mr Hollins for his behaviour overall."

As far as the drugs charges were concerned, Miss Grant said that the plea to one count of possession meant that the judge could still sentence on the basis of a course of conduct.

She said: "The public has a right to expect the highest standards of professional behaviour from CPS employees. We will not hesitate to take action against any member of staff who brings discredit on the service."

  1. Mr Hollins was charged on 14 March 2006 with sexual assault and drugs offences between October 2004 and October 2005. He was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on 4 May 2007 to 15 months for one charge of sexual assault and two years for another charge of sexual assault, to run concurrently. He was sentenced to six months for possessing cocaine to run consecutively to the other jail terms, making a total of two-and-a-half years.
  2. Mr Hollins resigned from his position with the CPS on 31 July 2006. He joined the CPS in August 1987 and was appointed Area Business Manager in Gloucestershire in 1999.
  3. An Area Business Manager is responsible for the efficient and effective running of their CPS Area and is directly accountable to the Area's Chief Crown Prosecutor. They do not have any direct involvement in prosecuting cases. The duties of an Area Business Manager include managing administrative services for the whole Area; implementation of Area business plans, ensuring consistency with criminal justice objectives; managing casework systems and processes in support of the prosecuting function; working closely with other criminal justice agencies.
  4. For further information, please contact the CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.