Last week the HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate published it’s report on the performance of the CPS Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) units. Announcing the publication of the report, the Chief Inspector of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate Kevin McGinty said that the level of performance of RASSO must improve.
The Report was critical of the CPS, claiming that RASSO units are insufficiently resourced and understaffed. It highlighted an inconsistency in the operating models rolled out nationally and said that RASSO casework was not always handled by specialists in dedicated units as it should be. In particular:
· cases were dealt with by a rape specialist in only 53 of the 85 cases reviewed (62.4%),
· there was continuity of prosecutor in only 44 of the 72 relevant cases (61.1%)
· files were dealt with by a dedicated RASSO unit in only 42 cases (46.7%)
Berkeley Sahota’s private client department deals with a large number of RASSO cases and is regularly in contact with officers and lawyers working for this branch of the CPS.
Commenting on the report, Berkeley Sahota principal Roger Sahota stated that
“Allegations of sexual misconduct can leave an indelible stain on the character of those innocently accused. Having represented a number of individuals whose cases have been discontinued after lengthy delays we note with concern the HMCTS report’s findings that only 39% of the cases examined met the target time for a decision to charge of 28 days. We are aware of cases where clients have waited 6 or months or longer before a decision is made. It is imperative that action is taken to ensure that those under police investigation are dealt with as swiftly as possible by state prosecuting and investigating agencies.”
The CPS response to the report can be found here.