The government has announced that it aims to increase the number of rape cases reaching court each year by implementing key measures, from ensuring victims have more support throughout the reporting and court process to introducing better data extraction technology allowing forensic examinations of electronic devices to be more effective.
On 18th June 2021 the government made the announcement and commitment to rape victims that they are going to work harder than ever to push rape cases through to prosecution, this means pressure on the Crown Prosecution Service to charge will be increased and investigations will be more thorough now than ever giving victims the confidence to come forward and report alleged sexual offences.
In the year to the end of March 2020, 58,856 cases of rape were recorded by the police forces in England and Wales, just 2,102 of those resulted in prosecutions. When a person is accused of rape the police have a number of hurdles to over come in gathering the evidence before they are even ready to put the file before a CPS reviewing lawyer, who is ultimately responsible for making the decision as to whether the evidence meets the required standard to issue charges.
Changes to investigative technology
The evidence that the police are required to discover often include evidence from mobile phones and social media which is a difficult process for the police. The announcement made by the government has addressed the technological issues and data extraction that the police encounter. It has therefore pledged to provide better technology to the police enabling up to 10,000 devices to be examined each year at the earliest possible stages of an investigation. One way in which they look to do this is by working with the mobile phone industry to provide ‘swap out’ phone for victims, so that they are able to provide them with a phone whilst theirs is put through the examination process.
We have already in seen and experienced in courts across England and Wales the introduction of pre-recorded cross examination evidence in cases where a complainant is classed a vulnerable. (A rape victim would always be regarded as vulnerable to the court). This allows complainants to give evidence before the trial providing them the confidence and comfort of knowing they will not be required to stand in front of a jury and give live evidence. Again, this is to increase the success of these cases proceeding to a prosecution.
What PCD Solicitors can do for you
On reading the governments announcement, PCD Solicitors feel it is now more important than ever that suspects are represented at the earliest opportunity possible to have a chance of a successful outcome of their case. The police and Crown Prosecution Service are now going to be supported more in actions they have to take to ensure rape allegations and other serious sexual offences are reported and prosecuted.
We often blog and advise on pre charge engagement, we can not stress how important it is and how much of a difference to such cases pre charge engagement with the police and CPS can make.
When we engage with the police and CPS we put our client’s case forward at an early opportunity with the aim to prevent a prosecution. We ensure that when the CPS lawyer receives an investigation bundle from the police they also (where appropriate) receive a defence bundle. The lawyer then gets to see the defence case and can make a more informed decision regarding any charges.
Within a defence bundle we may provide a wide variety information and this varies in each case. Each case is very unique and our approach is personalised to each client to ensure the most thorough preparation is carried out.
We work with our clients to understand their position, gather their thoughts on the allegations made against them and consider any police evidence with the law. We are then in many circumstances able to point out evidential weaknesses in the police case and the difficulties the CPS would have in bringing a successful prosecution before the courts.
If you, a family member or friend has been accused of a serious sexual offence and would like to discuss the investigative process or court process and what we can do for you, please contact our office on 0151 705 8488.