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Working to end sexual violence

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Not Proven: An Update

Miss M drawing

We welcome the independent analysis, released yesterday by the Scottish Government (read it here), on the response to the consultation on The Not Proven Verdict and Related Reforms, and particularly the clear majority support for the removal of the Not Proven verdict.

For most people who have experienced sexual crimes in Scotland the justice system in its current state is, quite simply, not working. The conviction rate for rape and attempted rape remains stubbornly low, the lowest of any crime type, and it has been this way for over a decade. We need action, and we need it now.

Successful Civil Rape Case Exposes Cracks in Criminal System

The second ever Scottish successful civil damages case for rape following an unsuccessful criminal prosecution has been announced, marking a significant day for survivors and justice in Scotland.

This is the third successful civil damages case for rape in Scotland, the second following a criminal prosecution.

After 6 years and 5 months of fighting for justice Ms AB - the survivor who took the case – is relieved and describes feeling overcome with emotion after what often felt to be a never-ending ordeal.

This case is thought to be the second of its kind – following the high-profile case of Miss M – and raises serious questions about the efficacy of the criminal justice system in delivering for survivors of sexual crimes.

The judgement can be read here.

Response to Updated Paper from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research

“We welcome this updated paper on court delays and the impact of these on victim-survivors of sexual crimes from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research. It adds growing weight to the calls for real, urgent action.

Before Covid we know that court delays were experienced as being very unpredictable, difficult, and traumatic by survivors being supported by Rape Crisis. Lengthy waits and last-minute changes meant that survivors often felt as though their lives were put on hold, and as though they were trapped in the trauma and unable to move forward. Now – with the court backlog estimated to take until 2026 to clear – the situation is untenable.

These are not problems that are without solutions. There are credible and robust options – including the use of judge led trials – that must be considered if we are to ensure that survivor and public confidence in the justice systems does not diminish even further. These options require courage and leadership and for us all to accept that doing nothing is not an option.” - Sandy Brindley, Rape Crisis Scotland

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.

Rape Crisis Scotland releases report on privacy rights for complainers of sexual offences in Scotland

Reporting sexual crime and going through the resulting criminal justice processes can be a daunting process. Privacy rights report cover

Of particular concern to survivors of sexual crime is the prospect of their sexual history or personal aspects of their lives being brought up in court. There have been some key decisions by the courts in recent years which have highlighted the rights of complainers to privacy and raised important questions about how we assist complainers to assert these rights.

This report brings together key considerations and recommendations from a roundtable held in November 2020 which brought together agencies and academics to consider the question of whether complainers should have greater rights to legal representation when their privacy rights are at stake. The report recommends that consideration be given to introducing independent legal representation for complainers where applications are made to introduce their sexual history or character.

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