Crisis Scotland is extremely disappointed that the Justice Committee has been
unable to back the removal of the requirement for corroboration.
National Coordinator Sandie Barton said:
"Too many survivors of sexual crime have been denied access to justice because of the requirement for corroboration. Over the years many survivors have told us how devastating it is when they are informed their case can't be taken to court because of this requirement. We fully support the Government's commitment to improving access to justice and are dismayed that the planned removal of the corroboration requirement has not been backed by the Justice Committee."
The requirement for corroboration has a disproportionate impact on sexual offences because crimes like rape most often happen in private, with no witnesses. Most rape cases never make it to court - Crown Office statistics show that only 25% of rapes reported to the police result in a prosecution. This can have a devastating impact on rape survivors. It also raises the very real possibility of guilty men walking free. Scotland is one of the very few legal jurisdictions to retain the requirement for corroboration.
The burden of proof for rape in Scotland is extremely high – currently, not only do the Crown have to prove and corroborate that sexual intercourse took place and the complainer did not consent to it, they also have to prove and corroborate that the accused knew the complainer wasn’t consenting. As most rapes take place in private, with no witnesses and frequently little if any physical injury, our requirement for corroboration means that our justice system is ill equipped to respond effectively to the reality of rape, where most rapes are carried out not by a stranger but by someone known.
"It is encouraging that the Justice Committee has recognised the need to improve legal responses to rape. We believe that the issue of access to legal advice and support for rape complainers is one which requires urgent attention. However, until the justice system is able to respond to more than the small minority of reported rapes which currently make it to court, rape survivors will continue to feel let down by the Scottish justice system.
The Justice Committee has failed to stand up for survivors of sexual violence.”
For further comment, please contact Sandie Barton or Sandy Brindley on 0141 331 4180 / 07764167501
Published: 6th February 2014
Rape Crisis Scotland welcomes Scottish Government plans to drop the requirement for corroboration, but warns that with the proposed increase in the jury majority, action must be taken to reduce the role that misinformation and prejudice may play in jury decision-making.
Published: 21st June 2013
Rape Crisis Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government's proposal to end the requirement for corroboration in Scotland. You can download our press statement here.
Published: 4th September 2012
To coincide with International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, Rape Crisis (England and Wales) and Rape Crisis Scotland have launched their new National Service Standards for Rape Crisis Centres. The standards represent a collaboration between the two national umbrella organisations and are the culmination of a process of research, reflection, consultation and definition spanning five years.
The standards describe in detail what is needed in order to deliver effective specialist sexual violence services. They cover the wider aspects of managing an organisation as well the more specific detail of services to survivors of rape and sexual assault such as the need to provide confidentiality and ensure safety. Please click here for a full press statement.
Rape Crisis Scotland is also publishing for the first time statistics outlining the services provided by rape crisis centres across Scotland. These provide, for the very first time, a picture of the range services offered to survivors of sexual violence throughout the country, and a broad profile of those who are accessing these.
Ten centres participated in the project: Argyll & Bute, Dundee, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Glasgow, Edinburgh (including ELSAS their East Lothian project), Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Scottish Borders and the Western Isles.
72% of callers to Rape Crisis Centre helplines are calling for the first time. The statistics shown give a summary of the support offered by these centres for the period 1 April 2010 – 31 March 2011. It is clear from these figures that there is a significant demand for rape crisis services across the country.
It is important to note that the actual level of support offered by RCCs in Scotland is greater than the figures given here. These figures represent the data from the ten participants of our 13 member centres during the project.* In addition, the actual level of prevalence of sexual violence in Scotland is likely to be far greater than the figures represented here, as many survivors of sexual violence don’t feel able to tell anyone about what has happened to them.
*Statistics for the other three member centres – Aberdeen, Central Scotland and Kilmarnock may be available either from their websites or by contacting the centre directly. Please visit www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk for contact information.
Published: 25th November 2011
We are delighted to report that the Scottish Government has announced its intention to continue funding for violence against women services in Scotland for the coming year.
At the Scottish Government debate on Violence against Women held on 23rd December 2010, Alex Neil the Minister for Housing and Communities, announced that three vital funds will be retained at their current level in the next financial year.
This follows an intensive period of joint campaigning by Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland.
Prior to the announcement it had been thought that many services for women and children would be cut. 40 Women’s Aid groups around the country faced an average loss of 40% of their funding. A number of rape crisis centres were facing the possibility of either closure or severe restriction of their services. These services have now been safeguarded.
The announcement came as very welcome news to Lily Greenan, Manager of Scottish Women’s Aid. She said:
“We have worked closely with Rape Crisis Scotland and with local Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis groups around Scotland over the last few months gathering support for the continuation of this funding from the Scottish Government. Today we are all extremely grateful to the MSPs, local politicians and members of the public who have played their part in making this happen.
“Christmas is the time of year when our services are needed most of all – during the festive season there is a dramatic increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents – so it really could not have come at a better time.”
Sandy Brindley, National Coordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, welcomed the announcement.
“Sexual violence can have a devastating impact and it is crucial that survivors throughout Scotland have access to specialised services. If Scottish Government funding had been lost, rape survivors across Scotland would have found it much more difficult to access support. We believe the provision of support following sexual violence should be a basic right, and we welcome the support for this across the Parliament.”
Although this announcement means that violence against women services will be guaranteed for the year 2011-2012, the future beyond this period continues to be very uncertain, and Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland are anxious to secure a long term funding strategy to ensure the sustainability of vital support services and will continue to work towards this. Lily Greenan said:
“We still have a long way to go to ensure that women and children who experience violence are able to access support wherever and whenever they need it. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and COSLA over the next few months to find ways to secure the future of these vital services.”
We are very grateful indeed to every MSP who signed the pledge to Save Our Services – you can see a list of these here, and if you share our concern and commitment to their long-term provision, please do get in touch with your local MSP and let them know. You can also see the full press statement issued by Scottish Women's Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland here.
Published: 11th February 2011
Rape Crisis Scotland’s National Helpline celebrated its third anniversary on Monday 11th October 2010. Since the Rape Crisis Scotland helpline was launched on 11th October 2007 it has received a total of 7,792 calls from members of the public. The helpline, which is funded by the Scottish Government, provides initial and crisis support to anyone affected by sexual violence. Helpline workers, who comprise a mixture of paid workers and volunteers, staff the helpline which is open every night of the year between 6pm and midnight.
Described by Rape Crisis Helpline Manager Katy Mathieson as a “lifeline for people who have been through some traumatic experiences”, the helpline has taken a large numbers of calls from a diverse range of people: “We’ve taken calls from people in all sorts of situations, from young women and men, to much older people. Callers have been friends, grandparents, co-workers, and partners, though the majority are from survivors themselves. Sometimes people are calling for support around something that happened a very long time ago – or it might be something that happened just last night or last week – there is no set pattern.”
A comprehensive and intensive programme of training covering everything from legal issues to ritual abuse means that helpline workers are well prepared to support callers in the many difficulties they face. “Prospective helpline workers undertake a very rigorous training programme before they begin working on the line, and we also operate a “buddy” system so that they are well supported as they become more experienced in offering support themselves” says Katy.
Many callers are looking for emotional and practical support to deal with their experiences, while others require legal information or on the ground help locally. The helpline also has a minicom service for Deaf or hard of hearing people, and can arrange for language interpreters for callers whose first language is not English. Support materials and a video introduction to Rape Crisis Scotland and the helpline are also available on the Rape Crisis Scotland website in a range of languages.
The Rape Crisis Scotland National Helpline won the BT/Telephone Helpline Association New Helpline of the Year in 2008, and comments from those who have used the service show clearly the difference it has made to their lives:
“Support was amazing”
“I can now see light at the end of the tunnel”
“I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the helpline”
The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline is open from 6pm to midnight, seven days a week on 0808 801 0302.
Published: 7th October 2010