Metropolitan police chief, Supt Robyn Williams, was found guilty of possessing indecent images on her phone after she received an unsolicited WhatsApp message that included a video of child sexual abuse. The jury at the Old Bailey heard how Williams was attending a gym class when she was sent the video by her sister, who wanted the person who made the video caught by police and charged.
Women’s organisations and senior lawyers have begun to look more closely at the use of ‘rough sex gone wrong’ as a defence to sexual crimes in the courtroom. Many have proposed a change in the law, following the discovery by researchers of a tenfold rise in the use of the argument in UK courts in cases where women have been killed.
In recent news, it has been revealed that The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) may have implemented secret targets for prosecutors in relation to rape cases. This may have resulted in tens-of-thousands of rape cases being dropped.
An unofficial policy which called on prosecutors to have ‘levels of ambition’ and to strive to achieve a 60% conviction rate in rape cases, is alleged to have encouraged prosecutors to drop rape cases that did not have a high chance of conviction.
In recent years, the number and type of sexual offences facilitated by technology have increased. As our world becomes ever more reliant on technology, questions are arising about how to deal with these 'new' offences. As sexual offences defence lawyers, it is important that we remain up to date with the regulation of these crimes as well as the approach of the court towards prosecution.
Very young witnesses can find the process of giving evidence daunting and are often liable to forget crucial details of their testimony in a very short space of time. There has been a serious concern in recent years that the process for obtaining evidence from witnesses in cases concerning sexual crimes is too slow, and that the process may be too intimidating. Current measures allowing the complainant to give evidence at an early stage, and other 'special measures may reduce the stress and trauma child witnesses experience but is also designed to allow the complainant to recall more accurate evidence.
Following the accusations made against Jimmy Savile, Operation Hydrant was set up to investigate claims of historic sex crimes. Of the 7,396 cases on the police database, only 29% ended in conviction. However, those who were wrongly accused of crimes are still facing the repercussions of the allegations. With such a massive influx of cases as a direct result of the Savile scandal and Operation Hydrant, some now believe that police and prosecutors were too quick to believe allegations without proper investigation.
Figures revealed by Lincolnshire Police show that 366 crimes were resolved using community resolutions last year of which 143 were for incidents involving violence without injury. The other 223 cases included the sexual assault of a young child alongside a religiously aggravated assault with numerous other violent incidents involving injury. These cases were dealt with by tactics including offenders apologising to victims, paying compensation, or other informal means of settlement.
New statistics from the Attorney General’s Office released on 6th August revealed that 137 criminals had their sentences extended in 2017, the majority of which were sentenced for rape and serious sexual assault (58).
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