THE region's prosecutors have been praised after it emerged Merseyside has the highest rate in the country for securing convictions against offenders who commit violence against women and girls.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy applauded the region’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after a national report highlighted that the area was now achieving guilty verdicts in nearly 80 per cent of court cases involving violence against females, including offences of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.

The conviction rate of 79.7% is the highest in the country.

Jane Kennedy said: “These figures demonstrate that prosecutors in Merseyside are leading the way nationally in securing guilty convictions for those perpetrating violence against women and girls.

“The fact that this region has the highest conviction rate of any area in the country sends out a clear message that these types of crimes will not be tolerated on Merseyside.

“CPS prosecutors in Merseyside should be applauded for their hard work, commitment and dedication in ensuring those who abuse and harm girls and women in our region are sentenced and very often put behind bars.

“This success is also thanks to the innovative work to tackle this type of offending that has been going on in the region for many years – from having the first ever units dedicated to the prosecution of rape and sexual offences, to having specially-trained lawyers and police officers and dedicated domestic abuse advocates and preparation lawyers.

“There is also some great partnership working going on in the region to ensure all the agencies involved with fighting crime and increasing community safety are pulling together to put victims at the heart of all our work.”

Liverpool and Knowsley also have a specialist court which is dedicated to hearing domestic abuse cases. The work of this court is overseen and monitored by the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board (MCJB) which brings together the region’s criminal justice agencies at chief officer level and is chaired by the Commissioner.

Mersey-Cheshire CPS’s Chief Crown Prosecutor Claire Lindley, who sits on the MCJB, said: “In 2010, we created the country’s first ever units dedicated to the prosecution of rape and sexual offences. In these units, specially trained lawyers and police officers work side by side on both recent and non-recent cases of rape and sexual abuse.

“This close working relationship is undoubtedly one of the reasons why we have the best conviction rate in the country for these offences.

“We also have a specialist Domestic Abuse team of trained advocates and dedicated preparation lawyers who are experts in dealing with the more complex dynamics of domestic abuse.

“We have gone a long way to dispel the myths and stereotypes that surround these sorts of offences and offer support to victims that help them through the justice system.”

Nationally, the conviction rate for domestic violence is also higher than ever with figures showing three quarters of people who are prosecuted for domestic violence are now being convicted.

Director of Public Prosecutions and the Head of the CPS Alison Saunders unveiled these figures at a Women’s Aid conference on Wednesday.

She said: “I am incredibly proud of what the CPS has achieved in recent years in tackling violence against women and girls.

“Taken as a whole, referrals from police are up, prosecutions are up, and convictions are up.

“This is in no small part due to the leadership shown by dedicated specialist coordinators in every CPS area and the determination of our prosecutors and case workers to see justice done for victims of crime.”