The Specialist Sex Offences Unit (SSOU) provides a specialist, best-practice approach to the prosecution of sex offences in Victoria.
SSOU solicitors have developed the expertise to deal with the complexities involved in sex offences, and work closely with co-located Crown Prosecutors who are solely assigned to sexual assault matters.
Sex offence specialists working in Melbourne and Geelong play a key role in ensuring that all sexual offence matters are resolved or progress through the court process as quickly as possible.
Sexual assault matters are given priority listing in the courts in a bid to meet legislated time limits for prosecuting these matters. This results in a high turnover of matters, for example, government legislation requires a matter involving a child or cognitively impaired victim to go to trial within three months of committal.
The Role of SSOU
SSOU prosecutes serious sex offences in the County Court and the Supreme Court on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
SSOU was set up in 2007 to:
provide a specialist team approach to use and further develop the expertise of Office of Public Prosecution (OPP) solicitors in prosecuting sex offences
improve the rate of conviction in sex offence prosecutions
give greater support to witnesses and victims
develop specialised training and guidelines for prosecutors and private barristers
ensure greater consistency in the conduct of prosecutions
enable collection and analysis of statistics on serious sex crimes
help the OPP engage in the development of legal policy, court processes and legislation relating to sex offences.
SSOU works closely with the OPP’s Witness Assistance Service (WAS), the Child Witness Service and Victoria Police to make sure victims receive the support and information they need throughout the court process. See also Witnesses and Victims.