Court specialisation for sexual violence cases
Proposals for prosecutorial specialisation
5.80We recommend that prosecutorial specialisation be achieved in two ways: (1) through the publication and dissemination of specific guidelines for the prosecution of cases involving sexual violence; and (2) through a requirement for prosecutors in sexual violence cases to have completed special training and education.
Prosecution guidelines dealing specifically with sexual violence cases
5.81New Zealand’s guidance for prosecutors is currently generic to all victims and offences. Prosecutors might draw some benefit from more comprehensive guidance that is aimed specifically at prosecuting sexual violence. In particular a comparison may be drawn with the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines, used in New Zealand, and the United Kingdom Crown Prosecution Service’s Legal Guidance: Rape and Sexual Offences.
5.82The latter document provides comprehensive guidance on each step of the case-building and prosecution of rape and other sexual offences, including:
(a) information on dealing with victims;
(b) the need for early discussion about special measures for giving evidence;
(c) the need to do a pre-court familiarisation visit;
(d) how to make best use of medical evidence at trial, including that the doctor who carried out the examination should be called as a live witness at the trial unless there are reasons not to do so, and that prosecutors must ensure that doctors acting on behalf of the Crown “are at least as well prepared as those acting for the defence to ensure equality of arms”; and
(e) directing prosecutors to be alert to any technical issues with video evidence including poor sound and picture quality and advice on how those can be improved.
5.83The United Kingdom guidance demonstrates that significant thought has gone into both the effective prosecution of sexual violence cases and the compassionate treatment of complainants. Going through a similar exercise in New Zealand may be beneficial. We therefore recommend that specific prosecutorial guidelines be implemented in New Zealand and suggest that the United Kingdom guidelines could be a useful resource in that exercise.
5.84We note that, in order to give full and proper effect to more comprehensive guidelines, Crown solicitors must have sufficient resources to train their staff on those guidelines and, if necessary, to enable those staff to devote extra time and expertise to ensure those guidelines are properly followed.
- R24 The Solicitor-General should be resourced to publish specific guidelines for the prosecution of cases involving sexual violence.