North East's chief prosecutor thanks those supporting victims of sexual offences

The North East’s chief prosecutor has thanked those supporting victims of sexual offences across the region.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 5:38 pm
Jan Lamping.

It came after organisations met this week to give their views on how the approach of the criminal justice system to such cases could be improved as the Crown Prosecution Service held its first Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RaSSO) conference in the region.

Jan Lamping, chief crown prosecutor for CPS North East, said: “This conference was an invaluable opportunity to get direct feedback from those witnessing first-hand the devastating effect that rape and other sexual offences can have on victims. Over the course of the event, we were really grateful to hear the candid views of colleagues across the criminal justice system, those in third sector support services and health professionals.

“The significant challenges faced by victims of these crimes are of concern to all of us.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"We all recognise that too few people feel able to report that they have been the victim of a sexual offence, and that too few of those who do find the courage to report the crimes against them will see their attackers face justice. Key to improving this is exploring how we can all work more effectively together to tackle some of the inherent challenges in such cases.”

The conference, which took place in Newcastle, was organised as part of the CPS response to the cross-government Rape Review, which was published in June 2021.

The report committed to launch ‘Operation Soteria,’ which will test innovative ways for the police and CPS to progress rape cases. CPS North East, together with Durham Constabulary, were selected to be part of this project, exploring new approaches to deliver better justice outcomes for victims of rape and sexual offences.

Among those giving presentations at the conference was Jamie Allinson, an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) from Darlington and Co. Durham Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre.

She said: "For many sexual violence survivors, taking their perpetrator through the criminal justice system can seem a scary and daunting process. And that's where the ISVA service can support them to better understand and navigate the system to get justice.

“However, opportunities like this conference are also very important so that we can work with others - such as the police and the CPS - to share what a survivor goes through, so that becomes a much more positive experience that places their needs at the centre, they get the right outcome and encourage others to come forward."

The CPS said new initiatives are already underway, including the introduction of a dedicated regional forum for ISVAs, through which they can provide regular feedback to the CPS, and a dedicated CPS mailbox to help them to build their understanding around key themes or gain swift answers to specific case queries.

At the request of the ISVA forum, CPS North East has also introduced an option of a post-charge meeting between victim, ISVA and the allocated CPS prosecutor in a range of cases.

Jan added: “We are exploring a number of further initiatives to improve our service to victims of rape and other sexual offences but understanding the perspectives of all parties involved in such cases is crucial. This conference marks a significant step in developing those key relationships and we are incredibly grateful for the invaluable feedback that those attending have provided us with.”