Rape Crisis Scotland and Miss M, the woman at the centre of a recent civil rape case, are today launching a campaign to end the not proven verdict.
Following a not proven verdict in a criminal trial in 2015, Miss M successfully sued Stephen Coxen in the civil courts, in what was the first civil damages action for rape following an unsuccessful criminal prosecution in almost 100 years.
Uniquely, Scotland has three verdicts – guilty, not guilty and not proven. Not guilty and not proven have the same impact – they are both acquittals, and there are no legal consequences for the accused if he/she gets a not proven verdict.
Rape Crisis Scotland has been working with 12 artists in Scotland to produce Reson@te, a new exhibition featuring work which invites viewers to consider issues like consent, self-image, loss of identity, the everyday reality of sexual harassment, trauma, feelings of grief, and the needs of survivors.
exhibition features a diverse range of work ranging from a short film, an
interactive installation, quilt, prints, painting, zines & textiles.
It will take place at the Image Collective Gallery on the 2nd floor of Ocean Terminal, Ocean Drive, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ.
This morning (19th October 2018) saw the High Court of Justiciary hear a petition to the Nobile Officium against an order for the recovery of a rape complainer’s medical records.
This action, by the complainer, is an unusual one - a legal route of last resort.
Significantly, the 3 bench panel of judges found that someone has a right to appeal any decision to access their medical records.
They quashed an order from Lord Burns that ALL her medical records should be accessed by a Commissioner (a solicitor) to prepare a report for the defence.
First successful civil damages action for rape following a criminal trial
Rape Crisis Scotland joins the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) and JustRight Scotland (JRS) in welcoming today’s judgement of Sheriff Weir QC in AR v Stephen Daniel Coxen.
Ms M has succeeded in establishing in civil proceedings that she was raped when she was a student at St Andrew’s University in 2013. She took this action because she felt let down by the criminal justice system – in which a jury returned a “not proven” verdict in December 2015 - and felt she had to pursue justice herself.
New figures released today show record levels of sexual crime
· Reported rape increased by 22% in 2017/18 compared to the previous year
· Reported rape & attempted rapes have increased by 99% since 2010
· In at least 40% of reported sexual offences, the complainer was under 18.
New figures released today by the Scottish Government show record levels of sexual crime being reported to the police. This includes a 22% increase in the number of rapes being reported to the police.
Rape Crisis Scotland’s Sandy Brindley commented:
“Reported sexual crime across Scotland is now at a record level. New figures released today by the Scottish Government show that recorded levels of rape and attempted rape have increased by 99% since 2010. Rape is a particularly underreported crime, which means that it hard to tell how much of this increase is due to people having more confidence in coming forward, and how much is due to more sexual crime being committed.
What we do know is that our services are seeing unprecedented levels of demand, with more and more people coming forward to seek support. Some people are looking for support for incidents that happened recently, others about something that happened many years ago. No matter when it happened, rape crisis services across Scotland can provide free and confidential support.”
“More needs to be done to ensure that people who do have the confidence to report rape or sexual assault don’t end up feeling let down or re-victimised by the justice process. We also need to tackle the root causes of sexual violence by investing in primary prevention work around consent and healthy relationships”.
Rape Crisis Scotland has previously backed calls from the Lord President, Lord Carloway, for rape complainers to not have to give evidence in court. Evidence - include cross examination - should be pre-recorded closer to the time of the incident/s. This would reduce trauma and enable complainers to give better evidence while retaining the right of the accused to test evidence. In our recent evidence to the Justice Committee on the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Bill, https://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/publications/RCSJustice-CommitteeevidenceVulnWitBillSept18.docx Rape Crisis Scotland called for the bill to be amended to extend the presumption of pre-recording of evidence to adult complainers of sexual offences.
Rape Crisis Scotland coordinates a prevention programme working with young people across Scotland on issues of consent and healthy relationships. We are currently working with young people in around half of the schools in Scotland. More information here: https://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/news/news/sexual-violence-prevention-project-evaluation/
The new recorded crime figures can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/09/2051