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After
a complaint of sexual violence is made to the police, a witness statement will
be taken from the victim, and if deemed necessary, they will undergo a medical
examination. Police will then gather other available forensic evidence, and
witness statements.

If
the alleged prepetrator can be identified, the Police will then forward the gathered
evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

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The
CPS will review the evidence, and if it is deemed to be sufficient and
admissible in a court case, the CPS will notify the Police to charge the alleged prepetrator.

Serious
sexual violence cases are heard at Crown Court, however, prior to this
happening, the alleged offender will appear at the Magistrate’s Court, where
they will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, and a decision made whether
they are to be kept in custody or granted bail. The Magistrate’s Court will
also make the decision on the conditions attached to the bail, for example not
contacting any of the witnesses. The victim does not need to attend the
magistrate’s Court.

Should
the perpetrator plead guilty, due to the seriousness of the offence, the
Magistrates’ Court will refer the case for sentencing in the Crown Court.

However,
if the defendant pleads not guilty, there will then be a Plea and Case
Management Hearing in the Crown Court, where the formalities of the trial, such
as witnesses and time estimates, are discussed.

Prior
to the trial beginning, the CPS will arrange a brief, and pay for the
prosecution’s barrister. The CPS may also decide to arrange a pre-trial
interview for the victim, this is not to coach the victim on what to say in
court, but to help the victim to know what to expect when they give evidence
and to help familiarise them with the surroundings. During this time, the
Police and an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) will also ensure that
the victim is kept informed about what is happening.

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