Closer working between CPS and police helping to increase charges of rape and serious sexual offences in the West Midlands
As part of a collective effort across the criminal justice system to tackle the discrepancy between rape and sexual offence cases being reported and taken to court, senior police officers and legal managers across the country are now working closer and communicating more regularly. In the West Midlands, this has contributed to a 33% rise in charges for rape and serious sexual offences.
Police and CPS in this area meet regularly to look at a sample of cases that haven’t been referred by the police, as well as cases the CPS has made the decision no further action will be taken, to ensure robust and consistent decisions are made, as well as sharing best practice, which has improved the overall decision-making process for police and prosecutors. Referrals from police have increased by almost 80% since December 2018 as a result.
In more complex cases, representatives from the police and the CPS come together to discuss investigations that will be coming to the CPS for a formal decision at an early stage, which ensures a prosecutor can be allocated to the case to work closely with the police from the start.
As part of the collective efforts to drive up performance on rape and serious sexual offences in accordance with the joint national action plan, a local action plan is being developed and senior police and the Unit Head from the West Midlands meet regularly to ensure improvements are being made.
One part of this involves CPS managers and police Detective Inspectors looking closely at the requests prosecutors make to police for additional information before a decision can be made. These requests are dip sampled regularly to see if there are any recurring issues, which can then be addressed and to ensure that all requests are relevant and proportionate.
Lawrence English, Head of Rape and Serious Sexual Offences in the West Midlands, said: “Over the last couple of years, we have built on our existing strong partnerships with the police to ensure that we are addressing new and emerging issues around the handling of rape and serious sexual offence cases.
“Looking at cases together, we can then work collectively to find solutions and deal with any concerns police or prosecutors may have at an early stage.
“We are always looking to make continuous improvements and, by working with police, I am confident that we can secure justice for more victims of rape and serious sexual violence.”
Performance as a result of this joint approach to handling cases in the West Midlands has increased significantly over the last two years to December 2020:
- Referrals of cases from the police to the CPS have gone up by 79.6% since December 2018
- The percentage of cases referred that result in a charge has increased from 38.4% to 71.4%
- The rape conviction rate has also gone up during that time from 60.3% to 79.5%
Notes to editors
- More information on the significant programme of work to improve RASSO prosecutions
- We have developed a national Joint RASSO Action Plan with the police, committed to agreeing a national process with the police to improve referrals – volumes and quality of files.
- We are working across the CJS to reduce the disparity between the reports of rape to the police and the criminal justice outcomes.
- Last year we launched RASSO 2025, an ambitious five year strategy to narrow the gap between the number of offences reported to the police and cases going to court, and encourage more people to come forward and report with the confidence that they will be supported through the system.
- RASSO 2025 will look at every aspect of how we prosecute rape, to identify areas for improvement and build confidence that every case is being dealt with expertly and fairly
- It includes a raft of measures to steer our joint work with the police, support our prosecutors to deliver first rate casework every time, and harness the potential of technology to support effective prosecutions.
- Our revised rape legal guidance including a section on rape myths and stereotypes, legal guidance for prosecutors on rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) will be finalised soon following a recent consultation period. The suggested changes aim to reflect the changing world, especially the growth of the digital technology and its impact on sexual behaviours and encounters.