New guidelines issued on child sexual abuse investigations

Martin Goldman chief crown prosecutor for Yorkshire and Humberside
Martin Goldman chief crown prosecutor for Yorkshire and Humberside

The investigation and prosecution in cases of child sexual abuse has to change, it was announced today.

The Director of Public Prosecutions and the College of Policing have both issued new guidelines which are designed to protect vulnerable victims and encourage them to report abuse allegations.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and a number of high profile child sex grooming cases.

Martin Goldman, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “The way police and prosecutors approach cases of child sexual abuse has to change. That is why, together with police chiefs, the CPS has published guidelines today setting out the complexities of bringing these difficult cases to justice.

“A key part of our new approach has to be the way prosecutors approach the credibility of allegations. Today’s guidelines will ensure that our lawyers focus on the overall allegation, rather than the perceived weakness of the person making them. When victims report a burglary, we do not instinctively question their credibility, and nor should we when people report allegations of child sexual abuse.

Today, the Ministry of Justice also announced that vulnerable victims will no longer have to re-live horrific experiences in a court room under a new pilot scheme being trialled in Leeds and other parts of the country.

The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling said both their evidence and cross-examination will be pre-recorded under the scheme to prevent victims being traumatised by court cases.

He said:”The particularly hostile treatment of victims and witnesses in court has nothing to do with fairness or justice. I am adamant we must put a stop to this, but without compromising everyone’s right to a fair trial.

“So for the first time we are going to spare these victims from the aggressive and intimidating court atmosphere by making sure they can give evidence and be cross-examined before the trial starts.”