PPS Policy for Prosecuting Sexual Offences

Closed 20 May 2022

Opened 11 Feb 2022


This is a public consultation by the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPS) to seek your views on our policy for prosecuting sexual offences. Our previous policy document in this area covered only the offence of rape and, whilst the standards and principles of that policy were applied to cases involving other serious sexual offences, it was decided that a new policy should formally reflect that position. It was further decided that the policy should apply to all sexual offences in circumstances where it is accepted that the ‘seriousness’ of a sexual offence can be a subjective concept.

We recognise that sexual offences are unique in the way that they impact upon the bodily integrity and self-respect of the victim and we acknowledge the courage that it takes for victims to speak out about such offences. This policy seeks to encourage victims to engage with the criminal justice process and to remain with the process by providing an assurance that they will be treated with dignity and respect and kept informed about what is happening at each stage of the process.

The purpose of the policy is also to explain the approach of the PPS in taking prosecutorial decisions in respect of sexual offences and to outline the particular processes which may affect these cases.

It is intended that this policy will also provide practical and legal guidance to prosecutors dealing with cases involving sexual offences.

The updated policy document can be accessed here: PPS Policy for Prosecuting Sexual Offences- draft for consultation.

It should be noted that initial equality screening has been carried out and no differential impacts were identified. However comments will also be welcomed from any person or organisations representing Section 75 groups that can highlight any aspect of the policy which may result in an unintentional impact. The initial screening form is available via the Equality area of the PPS website. 

Why your views matter

The PPS would welcome comments from any interested individuals or groups regarding the scope and content of this policy document.

At the end of the consultation period, copies of responses received by the PPS may be made publicly available. The information will also be published in a summary of responses which will be made available on the PPS website. If you do not want all or part of your response or name made public, please state this clearly in your response. Any confidentiality disclaimer that may be generated by you or your organisation's IT system or included as a general statement in your fax cover sheet, will be taken to apply only to information in your response for which confidentiality has been specifically requested.

Any personal data which you provide will be handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018. Respondents should also be aware that the PPS's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 may require that responses not subject to specific exemptions in the Act may be communicated to third parties on request.

Data Protection

The Data Controller of this information is the Public Prosecution Service, 93 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 3JR. The Data Protection Officer for the Service can be contacted at dpo@ppsni.gov.uk.

Details of why we collect your data, what we do with it, and how we protect your privacy, along with the PPS Retention and Disposal Policy (detailing the time periods for which different classes of data are retained), can be found on the PPS website. The relevant Privacy Notice can be viewed here.


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