Prosecuting Rape

How Police and the Crown Prosecution Service work together

The Police have responsibility for the investigation of rape and for gathering and presenting the required evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The CPS has the responsibility for assessing the evidence presented to them and making a decision whether the suspect should be charged with a criminal offences. They also determine the nature of the charge/charges.

In September 2011 Cheshire Police established a Dedicated Rape Unit (DRU). It followed a national drive to improve the service offered to victims of rape, to bring perpetrators to justice and to allay community concerns about sexual violence.

The Dedicated Rape Unit is made up of trained detectives who respond to and deal with all reported rapes. The unit works alongside a team of co-located specialist Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers to develop strategies around cases and secure prosecutions. The unit is led by a Detective Inspector, supported by three Detective Sergeants, who each supervise their own team of Constables.

The Dedicated Rape Unit deals with all recent and non-recent reported incidents of rape and attempted rape. Their role is to provide the initial response, attend the scene, establish details of the offence and compile the subsequent file of evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Dedicated Rape Unit officers have developed effective and professional relationship with partner agencies. Working closely with

  • Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at St Mary’s hospital, Manchester
  • RASASC, (Rape and Serious Sexual Assault Support Centre).

St Mary’s are nationally recognised for their work with rape victims and provide the forensic examination service for the Constabulary. Following a report of a rape, specialist officers engage with the victim and discuss options for conducting a forensic medical examination. Victims can also self-refer to the SARC without having any contact with the Police.

Bernie Ryan, SARC Manager at St. Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre said,

“In the first year we saw 175 cases form Cheshire and started working with the Dedicated Rape Unit team from their inception, providing training and awareness sessions to the officers recruited to the team.”

Victims of rape are supported by specialist support workers, Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVA), a service delivered in Cheshire through RASASC (Rape and Serious Sexual Assault Support Centre).

Victims can also self-refer to RASASC for advice and support without contacting the Police and reporting a crime, the views and wishes of the victim are respected at all times.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) who support the victim through the court process and provide counselling and essential emotional support signposting victims to other support agencies.

DC Kelly Ann-Blizzard from the Dedicated Rape Team -

“Our focus is on the victim’s welfare and, in the first instance, dealing with medical issues and injuries. We always assess the opportunity to take the victim to a SARC appointment, where they will be medically assessed and offered a counselling support worker.
We are better able to meet the victims’ needs and are more aware of the avenues to support those needs. Victims now have access to a direct line on which they can speak to specialised officers trained to deal with serious sexual assaults.”
Victims of rape are entitled as a matter of law to anonymity in the media, irrespective of whether their name has been provided in open court. Witness's addresses are not disclosed to the defendant and, unless already known (for example, where an offence is committed by a neighbour) or if required for evidential purposes, will not be referred to within the court proceedings.
The co- location of the DRU and rape specialist prosecutors assists and improves case handling and response to victims. It encourages improved communication between the CPS, The Police and the Criminal Justice System partners and enables staff to share good practice and improves early consultation in cases.
The specialist prosecutor will retain responsibility for the case from beginning to end and will work closely with the police throughout the investigation. These prosecutors have specialist knowledge in respect of serious sexual offences, special measures, Domestic Abuse and victim support.
Where there is conflicting evidence, the prosecutor has a duty to assess the credibility and reliability of the victim’s evidence. Unless the defendant pleads guilty, the victim will almost certainly have to give evidence in court. During any investigation, the police will seek corroborative or supporting evidence (such as medical/scientific or witness information) however this is not always essential and a prosecution can still go ahead without it. The addition of forensic evidence can be very beneficial to some rape prosecutions. Opportunities to secure this evidence are much higher if the rape is reported early."

Report it

In an emergency always dial 999

Non emergencies - 101

Crimestoppers - 0800 555 111

RASASC

The Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) Cheshire and Merseyside provides Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and Counselling to women, men, young people and their families who have experienced any form of sexual violence.  Support is offered from a variety of outreach locations across Cheshire East, Cheshire West and City of Chester, Halton and Warrington.

Further information: Rape Support Leaflet (PDF)

Email: support@rapecentre.org.uk

Helpline: 01925 221546

Helpline opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am-4.30pm