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The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published details of the findings of its recently conducted review into rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) cases. 

The review involved a reassessment of all cases in England and Wales in which someone had been charged with rape or serious sexual assault. It was carried out after concerns were raised about how disclosure was handled by the CPS and the police, following decisions to stop several prosecutions late in the process.

In total, 3,637 cases were assessed; some were at an early stage, while others were close to trial. Prosecutors identified where additional work was required, either to strengthen the prosecution case or to be satisfied that the evidence continued to support the decision to prosecute. In many cases, the police were asked to conduct further investigations.

The cases that were stopped during the review period were subjected to further, detailed analysis. This was in order to identify whether there were any concerns about how disclosure had been handled, and any common themes that should feed into improvement work already under way.

Forty-seven prosecutions for rape or serious sexual offences that were stopped in that period were found to have issues with the disclosure of unused material.

Common themes identified included communications evidence such as texts, emails and social media being examined too late in the process, the failure to identify and obtain material such as medical or social services records and the emergence of new evidence after charge.

A joint National Disclosure Improvement Plan has been produced to address the issues identified in the review and includes a range of measures that will support police and prosecutors with their disclosure duties. 

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