Panel’s check on rape cases

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A NEW scheme is under way to improve success in rape prosecutions.

Even though convictions are up in West Yorkshire – 12 per cent in the past year – prosecutors say more can be done.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Martin Goldman has introduced a new system which will mean unsuccessful rape cases will be scrutinised by a panel comprising experts from eight rape support organisations.

Mr Goldman said: “We must continually look to make improvements and I believe the panel will go a long way towards achieving this. The panel members will seek to identify common themes, trends or issues which may be leading to unsuccessful outcomes.

“It’s essential that we learn lessons from our own actions, but it can be difficult to scrutinise your own work so I have called on local specialists to give us an honest appraisal.”

Every six months, the panel will sift through the files of a number of rape cases which were either dropped or resulted in an acquittal.

“If we are to do this well we need to be open and honest and we need the same in return,” said Mr Goldman.

“I’ve asked the panel members to tell us exactly what they think.

They will select the files they want to see and will have full access to our performance data and details of any decisions we have made.

“Their feedback will be used to inform our policies, strategies and training to ensure we continue to improve the service we offer.

“We hope to improve victims’ confidence that they will be taken seriously and that the strongest possible case will be put before the courts.”

Panel member Barbara Siedlecki from Surviving Trauma After Rape (STAR) said: “We’re well aware of the attrition rates for rape cases in West Yorkshire and welcome the proactive steps the CPS is taking.”