The number of rape trials in England and Wales is expected to rise by 30% over the next year, prompting police and prosecutors to overhaul guidelines on handling cases.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said she expects there will be an additional 650 cases by the end of 2014/14 compared to 2012/13, with an additional 550 extra jury trails.
The rise could have an impact on how courts are operated, Saunders warned. Recent high-profile celebrity rape trials and other sex offence cases in the wake of the Jimmy Save scandal has been seen as one reason for the increase, with more victims believing their claims will now be taken seriously if they come forward.
Saunders and assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt have written to all chief crown prosecutors and chief constables to ensure the protocol – which forms part of part of the joint CPS and Association of Chief Police Officers Rape Action Plan – is sufficiently embedded.
Saunders said: "Rape and sexual abuse against women, men and children can have a devastating impact and the vast majority of offences are still not even reported.
"A drop in cases referred to us was a real cause for concern when we identified it last year but we are now seeing a significant turnaround in cases coming to court.
"I have learned this not only from projected volumes of cases for this year but also from travelling around the country where both my staff and others in criminal justice are telling me this in clear terms - including that a significant proportion of Crown Court trials are now in relation to sexual offences."
Hewitt added: "In order to build and maintain people's confidence in how the police deal with rape and sexual offences and to continue to increase reporting, it is vital that all victims are treated with sensitivity and respect and that their allegations are investigated thoroughly.
"The protocol launched today clearly lays out the steps that police and prosecutors should take to ensure a high quality investigation and build the best possible case.
"Consistently following this protocol across the country will ensure that we are doing our very best for victims of this uniquely damaging crime."