Armed Forces: Rape

Defence written question – answered on 27th March 2014.

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Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Attorney General

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the military prosecutor who made the decision not to bring any charges in relation to the rape allegation brought by Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement had undertaken the specialist training on rape and sexual offences compulsory for CPS prosecutors who work on rape cases at the time of that decision.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

I will write to the hon. Member shortly.

Substantive answer from Anna Soubry to Emily Thornberry:

In my answer of 20 March 2014 (Official Report, column 701W) I undertook to write to you in response to your parliamentary question regarding the qualifications of the military prosecutor in the rape allegation made by Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement.

Specialist training on Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) was established for CPS Personnel in 2007. At the time of the decision not to bring charges in relation to the allegation brought by Corporal Ellement, this training was not mandatory for SPA prosecutors and had not been undertaken by the military prosecutor who made the decision.

The prosecutor concerned was highly experienced; having prosecuted nineteen rape and sexual assault cases during his assignment to the Authority. He met Cpl Ellement to explain why and how he had reached his decision. The then Director of Service Prosecutions carried out a detailed review of this case in 2012. His review confirmed the original prosecutor's decision not to direct for trial.

The question of training of those prosecutors involved in cases of alleged serious sexual offences was addressed in detail by an inspection report on the SPA by Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Inspectorate in 2010. They endorsed the quality of decision-making by prosecutors, but recommended that ‘the SPA should identify prosecutors with the appropriate skills and experience to become rape specialists and ensure that their training is targeted to developing this specialist expertise including attendance on an appropriate course’.

Since 2010 the SPA has sent 16 officers on CPS held RASSO courses and currently employs 10 RASSO trained officers. In order to ensure that the SPA complies with best practice in the civilian domain, it is SPA policy that only suitably trained and experienced prosecutors conduct rape and sexual assault prosecutions.

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