Northumbria’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, is working with volunteers who have expressed an interest to be part of the Court Observers Panel which are observing rape and some sexual abuse trials at Newcastle Crown Court.
The development of this panel is a key priority in the regional Police and Crime Commissioners Violence against Women and Girls Strategy, and it aims to increase the understanding between the courts and victims of abuse in the hope of building confidence to report rape and sexual abuse, and unpinning criminal justice processes where necessary.
The role of the panel is to collate and publish their observations of how the cases are tried to see how well the courts are working to improve the trial of sexual offences. This includes considering whether a victim is provided with appropriate support in court and the use of myths and stereotypes about rape and abuse rather than focusing on facts.
A new report from Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird highlights how even small changes to court processes based on the observations of a unique scheme of Court Observers could help improve the rape conviction rate.
The 12 observers, local members of the public, watched on a rota basis 30 rape trials at Newcastle Crown Court between January 2015 and June 2016.
The report “Seeing is Believing” is published today (Monday 20th February). As a result of the observations changes have already been made by the Judiciary and the CPS to local working practices.
To read the full report please click here
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