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Conference on responses to survivors' support & justice needs

Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson will open Rape Crisis Scotland’s forthcoming conference on ‘Responding to the support and justice needs of survivors of sexual violence’, which takes place in Glasgow on 9th November.

The conference, which marks the 10th anniversary of Rape Crisis Scotland’s National Helpline, will include inputs on trauma, the impact of Rape Crisis Scotland’s National Advocacy Project (which supports survivors through the justice process), and will also look at ways in which services can be made more accessible.

National Helpline celebrates 10 years

Today the Rape Crisis National Helpline celebrates 10 years of supporting people affected by sexual violence.
The service was launched and started taking calls on 11th October 2007, and since that time has responded to over 41,000 contacts from people looking for support and information about sexual violence. Most of these (almost 36,000) were calls, with over 5000 of the remaining contacts coming in by email. The National Helpline is committed to providing as accessible a service as possible, and has undertaken a number of developments in the past 10 years to improve accessibility. The helpline offers confidential support and information to service users by email as well as over the phone, and a Deaf access service is available every Tuesday afternoon, with enhanced access via online BSL interpreter through Contact Scotland BSL as well as by SMS text. This service was launched in 2009 and since then all volunteers and staff have undergone deaf awareness training prior to staffing the helpline.

Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline Anniversary Conference

Rape Crisis Scotland’s National Helpline celebrates 10 years of supporting survivors this year and is holding a 10th Anniversary conference on 9th November.

This conference will look at the developments the helpline has made, how the work has fed into wider changes in policy and practice, as well as looking to the future.
Key note speakers include:

  • Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice
  • Sandie Barton, Director of Operations, Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Sandra Ferguson, Programme Manager NES Trauma Training Framework Team
  • Stuart Houston, Detective Superintendent, National Rape Task Force
  • Oona Brooks, Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research, University of Glasgow

Vision outlined to improve court experience for children & vulnerable witnesses

As part of Evidence & Procedure Review, the Scottish Courts & Tribunal Service has today published a report which outlines measures which could improve the way children and EPR vulnerable witnesses experience the court process.

These include encouraging and improving the use of taking evidence by a Commissioner (the current system where a child or vulnerable witness can be questioned in advance of trial, under the supervision of a judge) and changes to legislation to shorten the gap between initial interview and further examination. The report also sets out a long term vision based around the Barnahus (Children’s House) model in place in Scandinavian countries - initially for children, but extended later to other vulnerable witnesses. The Barnahus model spares children from repetitive interviews by different agencies in a variety of locations, which can be harmful and confusing, and can damage the quality of their evidence.

New figures from the Scottish Government show record levels of sexual crime

Clear and urgent need to expand prevention work with young people.

· 26% increase in sexual crimes between 2013-14 and 2016-17.

· Rapes in Scotland have risen by 4% in the past year to 1,755, and attempted rapes by 5%.

The Scottish Government has today published statistics on Recorded Crime in Scotland for 2016-17. Although reported crime overall has gone down, sexual crimes continue to rise. Part of the reason for this is a dramatic rise in the number of offences in the ‘Other Sexual Offences’ category, which is one of four categories Police Scotland use to record sexual crimes, and is made up of a wide range of sexual crimes. ‘Other sexual crimes’ accounted for 40% of sexual crimes in 2016-17, ahead of ‘Sexual assault’ (almost 40%) and ‘Rape & attempted rape’ (17%).

A separate report focusing on ‘Other sexual crimes’ and highlighting the significant rise in these between 2013-14 and 2016-17 has also been published to accompany the broader report and to look at this area in more detail. The report highlights the high prevalence of sexual crime being experienced by young women under the age of 16.