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Live webchat about rape and violence against women, with Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions, Wednesday 5 December, 1pm

(94 Posts)
FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 30-Nov-12 13:26:25

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer first joined us for a webchat in March this year to support our 'We Believe You' campaign. Nine months on, he has agreed to come back for a LIVE webchat on Wednesday 5 December at 1pm to update us on what the CPS is doing to take a lead on rape and violence against women. Keir is happy to try to address any questions that were not fully answered in the last webchat but will focus on the CPS's progress on:

* The measures that have been put in place to support victims and witnesses of rape and sexual assault.

* The CPS's progress on handling accusations of/convictions for women falsely alleging rape. On false allegations, Keir said: "For the past year I have put in special arrangements for all cases of false allegations which has required them to be handled at CPS HQ. We are now requiring all Chief Crown Prosecutors personally to have sight of these cases and continuing CPS HQ oversight through quality reports."

* Victims being treated as guilty until proven innocent.

* The massive number of unreported rapes. Keir said: "It's our job to try and increase confidence in people to come forward. It's a big task but it's a must."

* What the CPS is doing to help the court process work better for victims of child sexual exploitation.

Keir was called to the Bar in 1987 and appointed Queen's Counsel in 2002. He was named QC of the Year in the field of human rights and public law in 2007 by the Chambers & Partners directory, and in 2005 he won the Bar Council's Sydney Elland Goldsmith award for his outstanding contribution to pro bono work in challenging the death penalty throughout the Caribbean and also in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.

He was appointed as Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service in November 2008. Keir is married with two children.

Because of Keir's professional responsibilities, the CPS has asked us to make a few things clear. Prosecutors take a case from pre-charge (giving the police advice in a complex investigation) through to verdict. The CPS authorises charges in serious or complex cases, including all charges of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence. Keir will be happy to address general questions, but please be aware that he won't be able to discuss the specifics of any cases, including those that are currently under investigation or going through the courts. Sentencing itself is a matter for the judiciary rather than the CPS, and as such it would be difficult for Keir to discuss the specifics of sentencing in any case. Finally (and somewhat obviously), changes in the law are a matter for Parliament rather than for Keir himself.

Do please join us on Wednesday 1pm for the webchat. If you can't join us live, please post up your questions here in advance.


TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 19-Mar-13 14:15:43

Because the rape victim is not an accuser, she/he is a witness.

There are provisions for vulnerable witnesses eg children throughout the court system and it has been decided that rape victims are sufficiently vulnerable as a "class" of witnesses (similar to children) to have anonymity.

No crime has general anonymity for the accused, as far as I'm aware. Exceptions are when identifying the accused could identify a vulnerable witness, or (I think) sometimes where the accused might be tried subsequently on another charge to avoid prejudicing the subsequent trial.

mungotracy Wed 13-Mar-13 16:02:30

Would the director care to explain why the simple step of providing anonymity to the accused until after trial given the life damaging nature of any allegation has not been taken and that anonymity is granted to the accuser. Is the director happy with lynch mob punishment or simply terrified of actually applying the concept of justice to all because it disturbs his political affiliation?

SirEdmundFrillary Mon 14-Jan-13 19:09:42

Is there anything new about this? I can'tfind any other threads.

Last week the CPS said in 2009 they and the police could hsve prosecuted.

LineRunnerWithBellsOn Thu 06-Dec-12 17:44:03

Yes it sounds like cherry-picking cases to me to get the conviction rates higher, with the CPS advising the Police to NFA far too many cases.

SirEdmundFrillary Thu 06-Dec-12 11:16:50

>>Keir Starmer didn't answer my [Part 2] question about how the levels of pre-charge advice and the consequent NFAs/conviction data correlate and vary from county to county. I think the answer would be illuminating.<<

I agree, and I expect that's why he didn't give it.

I've found this all very upsetting. This is such are hard issue for people and I find it insulting and infuriating to have to pick through a load of spin and fidgiwidginess to try and get to proper answers.

I'm particularly annoyed at his implication that I'm not able to understand or hear something that was perfectly clear. If that doesn't demonstrate a dismissive attitude I don't know what would.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 06-Dec-12 10:30:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ilovemydogandMrObama Thu 06-Dec-12 09:21:56

I appreciate Keir responding to my question, however he completely misses the point.

Yes, victim support has been fantastic for my friend who gave evidence against her husband on the emotional side, but she was given no help or advice on the legal front as far as procedure or representation. As essentially a witness in the legal process, she had no legal recourse or voice and had to rely on the prosecutor, who quite correctly, treated her as a witness rather than a victim.

I think there should be more scope for victim participation in DV cases much like the guardian ad litem role where vulnerable children are involved.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 06-Dec-12 01:26:19

Lougle I like the Sexplicit idea for consent.

Nigel I think that is right for the conviction rate.

OhDearNigel Wed 05-Dec-12 23:28:04

I think the 62.5% figure relates to the percentage of charged rape cases that result in a successful prosecution (ie def. either pleads or is found guilty)

OhDearNigel Wed 05-Dec-12 23:25:10

Keir, if there is any chance that you may revisit this thread I have an idea for an early intervention for DV cases - instead of a simple caution for first time DV abusers, replace this with a conditional caution with attendance on IDAP as the condition.
The feedback that I have received from my victims where the perpetrators have attended these programmes is that it has significantly improved their behaviour but would have been beneficial much earlier in the process - which could in turn help lessen reoffending rates, resulting in fewer abused women and also freeing up court and CPS time

OhDearNigel Wed 05-Dec-12 23:21:16

In cases involving serious sexual offences I would expect the victim to have a single point of contact (SPOC) who they can ask questions of. This may be either a police officer or a member of the joint police/CPS witness care unit. We do work closely with the police and I would expect them to pass any questions from a victim on to us and I encourage prosecutors to be as open as possible about the decisions they are making.

I can vouch for this as this is the job I do

OhDearNigel Wed 05-Dec-12 23:19:19

Gutted I missed this webchat, ironically was at a Supporting Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence conference sad

timeforachangebaby Wed 05-Dec-12 22:31:28

I guess there is only so much he can say in an hour, perhaps mumsnethq could ask his press office to get some comprehensive answers to the unanswered questions from before he ran out of time.

mcmooncup Wed 05-Dec-12 22:12:18

I agree linerunner

That seemed a deliberately vague statistic. He was generally very well informed and must know that 62.5% of nothing specific is a meaningless statistic.

LineRunnerWithBellsOn Wed 05-Dec-12 22:10:20

That's why I asked about the 'pre-charge' advice and if it is, basically, upping or downing the figures (and the CPS's 'targets').

I think - just think, I don't actually know - that the increase to 62.5% is connected to the increase in pre-charge advice, but not necessarily in what we might think to be a good way. I think it is in the public interest for this to be clarified.

For once I would actually like to see raw numbers as well as percentages; from reporting, to the CPS screening at 'pre-charge advice' stage, and then through to charge and conviction.

Keir Starmer didn't answer my [Part 2] question about how the levels of pre-charge advice and the consequent NFAs/conviction data correlate and vary from county to county. I think the answer would be illuminating.

timeforachangebaby Wed 05-Dec-12 22:06:52

I think he means 62.5% of those that actually make it to court.

ChristmasFayrePhyllis Wed 05-Dec-12 21:16:58

Well, it can't possibly be of all reported serious sexual offences. It must be either those that the CPS gets a file on, or those that actually make it to court. He should have made it clear what it meant.

mcmooncup Wed 05-Dec-12 21:03:23

I don't understand the 62.5% figure?

I'm presuming he is saying that they get convictions in 62.5% of cases they take to court. But if so, that is a massively misleading figure to be quoting as a "conviction rate". How did others understand that figure?

vvilmasanto Wed 05-Dec-12 20:56:17

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

ChristmasFayrePhyllis Wed 05-Dec-12 20:44:14

Thanks for coming on here and replying. But instead of saying there is a new generation of younger victims waiting in the wings, maybe you could have said 'there is a new generation of young people who don't seem to properly understand what consent and sexual abuse are, and who are growing up in an environment that promotes rape culture'. Sexual assault victims don't just happen: it is the people who choose to perpetrate assault who make it happen.

LineRunnerWithBellsOn Wed 05-Dec-12 17:14:27

I'm glad he did the webchat and I'm glad he said that the CPS have rowed back on those horrible prosecutions of retracting victims. Good to get it in writing from him.

Still lots of questions that arise!

SirEdmundFrillary Wed 05-Dec-12 15:16:40

Yes, thank you for coming and I too hope you’ll come back.

I thought the answer to my question was quite a neat demonstration of not wanting to hear or believe a victim, actually. There’s the implication that what I’m saying is wrong/mistaken etc. Keir will know what was said in the programme as he has a large press office. That’s why he said: ‘…the comment may have been…’, not, ‘you’re talking crap and that is not what was said.’
His beginning the sentence with ‘to be fair’ is a device intended to link himself in people’s minds with the concept of fairness.
The rest of the answer is just saying stuff I didn’t ask about.

It’s a difficult job and of course a lot of good work is being done but there are problems too and issuing big statements about progress is easy; changing things takes more and needs a willingness to listen uncomfortable things.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have done this though, so thank you Keir and mumsnet.

Lougle Wed 05-Dec-12 14:38:13

Perhaps there should be a campaign called 'Sexplicit' - promoting explicit consent before sex.

LineRunnerWithBellsOn Wed 05-Dec-12 14:33:21

Bye. Please come back again.

snowshapes Wed 05-Dec-12 14:30:40

thank you.

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