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WARNING: May contain content that is triggering for some readers.

The growing exchange of naked selfies, misconceptions about the use of ‘hook up’ dating sites and discussion of why sexual assault victims may remain in contact with their attacker all form part of new draft guidance for prosecutors on rape myths and stereotypes published by the Crown Prosecution Service today.

“For example, many teenagers believe that sending explicit photos or videos is a part of everyday life. Our prosecutors must understand this and challenge any implication that sexual images or messages equate to consent in cases of rape of serious sexual violence.”  (Siobhan Blake, CPS rape lead)

The material is part of a wide-ranging revision of legal guidance for prosecutors on rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) which is being launched for public consultation today. It is the first full refresh since 2012 and includes updated guidance on dealing with digital material, as well as reasonable lines of enquiry.

In July 2020, the CPS reported that the number of rape convictions in England and Wales had fallen to a record low, according to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) data.  In 2019-20, 1,439 suspects in cases where a rape had been alleged were convicted of rape or another crime – half the number three years ago.

Claire Waxman, the London Victims’ Commissioner, said: “I welcome the publication of new guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service today. This is a much-needed update that will help to tackle pervasive myths and stereotypes around rape and the culture of disbelief.

“Last year I carried out the London Rape Review, a comprehensive review into rape cases in the capital, which revealed that only three per cent of allegations result in a conviction.

“Following this research I called for the Crown Prosecution Service to undergo trauma training and refresh their guidance, as for too long, evidence of trauma, such as inconsistencies in memory, has been misinterpreted as victims being unreliable which has influenced charging decisions. I am pleased my recommendation has been welcomed and that the new guidance includes the impact trauma can have on a victim’s memory. This is great progress.”

Consulation Details are on the CPS Website

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