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Early communication between police and prosecutors in Wessex helps to reduce delays for rape victims

|News, Sexual offences

Regular contact between the CPS and police in Wessex has seen a reduction in delays on decisions and a positive shift in the number of rape cases charged in the area. 

Prosecutors in the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit at CPS Wessex have been working with police at a much earlier stage of their investigation to provide support and guidance. 

As part of the improved early investigative advice process, the prosecutor will meet with the police officer leading the investigation at a very early stage to set out what evidence and information is needed to build the case.

Once the case is almost ready for the CPS to consider, if there is a need for any final evidence or materials, this is set out in an action plan that is agreed with the police officer. 

The action plans all have a set timetable which is realistic about the volume of work that needs to be completed and ensures the reviewing prosecutor knows when to expect the file for formal consideration. 

This means police are supported by the RASSO team throughout the case-building process, and the steady increase in the charge rate is an indication these changes are already making a positive difference. 

This closer working has reduced the time it takes for a charging decision to be made and has seen an increase in the number of guilty pleas entered as cases are ready for trial by the first hearing. 

Head of the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit in Wessex, Sophie Stevens, said: “We’ve put in a lot of work to make improvements to issues around rape and serious sexual offence prosecutions. 

“A big part of this has been much earlier contact with police, working hand in hand with them to build the strongest cases and avoid unnecessary delays in decisions.

“We are seeing green shoots of progress from these changes with an increase in our charging rate. Earlier preparation has also meant more people are pleaded guilty at the first hearing in the face of the evidence against them.”

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