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Working to end sexual violence

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Rape Crisis Scotland: Survivors speak out on Policing in Scotland

Rape Crisis Scotland have today (3rd November) released a powerful report by survivors of rape, sexual violence, and abuse on Police Responses in Scotland. The Survivor Reference Group (SRG) report details experiences of Police responses to reports of sexual crimes and makes critical recommendations that – if implemented - could transform survivors’ experiences of reporting sexual violence.

Many survivors of sexual crimes do not report what has happened to them for a variety of reasons. For those that do, Police responses are understood as being a significant factor not just in survivors experience of the justice process – regardless of whether the case reaches court and the verdict – but in their ability to come to terms with what has happened and seek further support.

Fairness, dignity and justice - changing Scotland's response to sexual crimes

A judicially led review, chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, will develop new proposals for how sexual offences are dealt with within the Scottish Criminal Justice System.

At Rape Crisis Scotland we consistently hear that many survivors feel let down by the justice process, and yet the volume and complexity of sexual offences has grown so much in recent years that the majority of High Court trials now relate to recent or historical sexual offences. This review is clearly a significant opportunity to think creatively and practically about building a system that has fairness and dignity at its heart.

According to the Judiciary, the review group – which will be made up of judiciary and representatives of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Police, COPFS, justice agencies and third sector organisations – will look at the opportunities to manage cases in a way which is efficient, delivers justice as locally as possible at the earliest opportunity, and improves the experience of complainers in giving their evidence.

“We are hopeful about the potential this review brings because it is impossible to underestimate just how necessary and urgent action on improving rape survivors experience of the justice system is. What is especially welcome is the approach of Lady Dorrian in looking at the prosecution of sexual offences cases with a blank slate - this gives all of us the opportunity to think creatively and imagine a system that protects both the human rights of those accused of serious sexual crime, and those who are complainers.

"It's never going to be easy to pursue justice following rape or sexual violence, but there are concrete actions that can be taken to reduce the trauma currently experienced by complainers. We look forward to working closely with Lady Dorrian and the whole group on this important issue."

– Sandy Brindley, Rape Crisis Scotland

“This is an opportunity for all the organisations involved to look at the overview of sexual offences prosecuted in our courts and deliver an improved approach to ensure that these cases are dealt with as efficiently and effectively as possible for all concerned. It will also consider how to improve the experience of victims when giving their evidence.”

– Lady Dorrian

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