Rise in successful rape prosecutions in Northamptonshire

There has been a rise in successful rape prosecutions in the county
There has been a rise in successful rape prosecutions in the county

Three quarters of charges for violence against women and girls resulted in a conviction this year, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
And Northamptonshire CPS has the second highest rate for convictions in the country, according to the CPS’s 2012-13 Violence against women and girls report.

Domestic violence makes up the biggest proportion of the crimes classed as violence against women and girls at 86 per cent, with rape at 4.5 per cent and sexual offences, excluding rape, 9.5 per cent.

Sally French, District Crown Prosecutor with responsibility for rape and serious sexual offences for the county, said: “Offences of rape and sexual assault are extremely serious and can leave victims devastated.

“They are also uniquely challenging to prosecute because they usually take place in private with no witnesses, and in a significant proportion of cases the issue for the jury will be whether or not the victim consented.

“We take all rape cases seriously and work closely with the police to build the best case we can against the perpetrator.

“This has been extremely successful in Northamptonshire as it has the second highest conviction rate in the country for rape during 2012-13 and the number of cases prosecuted (as a percentage of indictable only offences) is, in fact, higher than the national average.

“Prosecutors work extremely closely with the police, and the county’s independent sexual violence co-ordinators to provide as much support as possible through the prosecution process for victims of rape.

“Cases of rape are prosecuted by a small number of experienced specialist prosecutors.

“We can attribute the success of the team in Northamptonshire to getting the basics right.

“This includes reviewing material from third parties before making a charging decision, good case management and meeting with victims before trials take place to determine whether they need any special measures in court to help them give their best evidence.

“To ensure that we maintain and build on the current success, CPS East Midlands is shortly putting together a specialised team to handle rape and serious sexual offences across the whole of the East Midlands.

“This will enable us to continue to use highly specialised prosecutors and deliver a high service to the victims of such serious crimes.”

Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said: “The evidence is clear that 10 years of progress is paying off and not only are the conviction rates steadily increasing, but our service to victims is also improving.

“These results send a powerful message to perpetrators that they are more likely than ever to be convicted for their crimes. The considerable rise in the proportion of rape cases that we charge indicates that we are building stronger cases which lead to more guilty pleas.”