Thames and Chiltern lead prosecutor welcomes new national approach to prosecuting adult rape cases
A new national approach to prosecuting adult rape cases has been welcomed by the Crown Prosecution Service’s lead prosecutor for Thames Valley, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
The Crown Prosecution Service’s new operating model aims to drive up the number of rape cases taken to court and improve victim experiences by setting an improved and standardised approach to how adult rape cases are handled by CPS lawyers.
Chief Crown Prosecutor Jaswant Narwal for CPS Thames and Chiltern said: “Rape is a truly devastating and life-changing crime, and our prosecutors see the trauma and lasting impact it has on victims every day.
“Working with the police, we are determined to drive up the number of rape cases going to court, and the new national standardised approach to prosecuting these cases will help us to build on work we have been doing to achieve this.”
Among its commitments, the new model will see CPS prosecutors providing early advice to the police in rape and sexual assault cases within 21 days. This is to help build stronger cases by focusing investigations towards the behaviour of the suspect, their conduct and actions; to make decisions on third party material at the outset so that requests for personal data are limited; and to consider and overcome any assumptions or misconceptions about rape and how victims or perpetrators behave that may be present in a case.
Jaswant explained: “Our specialist rape prosecutors now provide early advice to police much more often to help them build stronger rape cases and we expect this to result in more charging decisions once those investigations conclude.”
The CPS locally has also been improving its support to victims of rape.
“In line with the new model, we are doing much more to ensure victims know how their case is being prosecuted, from advising who is working on their case and what charges we have made, to explaining their rights, how we make our charging decisions, what happens at court, and what support is available for them to give their best evidence at trial. We are also working more closely with dedicated independent sexual violence advisors who support victims throughout the police investigation and the prosecution.”
The CPS operating model will build on the work of the nine CPS Areas which have been working as part of Operation Soteria (a police and CPS programme to develop new operating models for the investigation and prosecution of rape in England and Wales), and the CPS and police’s Joint National Action Plan initiated in January 2021.