We were delighted to welcome Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, to the Rape Crisis Scotland offices this morning.
The visit followed the First Minister's announcement earlier this week in the Programme for Government of an additional £1.5 million funding (over three years) for Rape Crisis Centres to help improve the support available to survivors of sexual violence.
Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
Government has taken many actions to take forward our commitment to preventing
and eradicating violence against women and girls. This includes investment in prevention work,
frontline services and improvements in the justice system, as well as the
introduction of landmark legislation on domestic abuse, abusive behaviour and sexual
[Photo: Shirley-Anne Somerville with Rape Crisis Scotland Director of Operations Sandie Barton]
We are truly delighted this week to be celebrating something very special and unusual : the conferring of an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University on our Chief Executive Sandy Brindley.
Sandy was nominated for this distinction by Professor Michele Burman, Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences and Professor of Criminology at the university, whose reasons for doing so are outlined in the generous and fulsome submission she made to the University Senate and gave kind permission for us to reprint below.
[Photo: Dr Sandy Brindley with Professor Michele Burman]
We write to express our significant concern with respect to your letter
dated 8th of March outlining the shift in approach of the Crown Office
in dealing with reluctant complainers in rape cases, effective from
today, and ask that you urgently reconsider this change to policy.
We share the knowledge that rape is an awful crime that can leave a lasting and profound impact on those who experience this violence. It is no secret that the concept of justice is one that is frequently far removed from the reality of survivors of sexual violence in Scotland today. I know you are also aware of the many barriers that stand in the way for those who pursue justice and even though considerable work has been done to address and remove these obstacles there remains a stubborn gap between those who experience sexual violence and their ability to access justice and we are clear that there is much more to do.
New figures published today by the Scottish Government show that the level of convictions in Scotland for rape and attempted rape has fallen for the second year in a row, with only 39% of cases prosecuted leading to a conviction.