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Child Abuse Trial Guidelines Issued

Final guidance on the prosecution of cases involving child sexual abuse in England and Wales has been published.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said it represented the biggest shift in attitude across the criminal justice system "for a generation".

Under the guidelines, prosecutors are told to focus on the credibility of allegations, not on whether victims make good witnesses.

All suspects will also be investigated to see if they possess indecent images.

The guidelines cover how victims should be treated and how a case should be built and presented in court.

Victims have previously been disbelieved or discouraged, he said, but the new guidelines represented a move towards a "more sophisticated knowledge of psychology".

A list of "myths and stereotypes" about behaviour previously thought to negatively impact the credibility of young victims has also been included, so the use of such preconceptions can be challenged in court by prosecutors.

A joint protocol for information sharing in child sexual abuse cases has also been published alongside the guidelines, in which police and prosecutors are expected to share information with social services, schools and family courts.

For more on this story and related articles, please see the BBC News website.

[Text © 2013 BBC News]