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Guide to the criminal justice system for survivors of sexual violence: updated

Rape Crisis Scotland have today (Wednesday 10th July 2019) launched an updated video guide to the criminal Survivor facing oncoming wave justice system for survivors of sexual violence, featuring key people that survivors will come into contact with during the justice process.

This includes a specially trained police officer, a rape crisis advocacy worker, a Procurator Fiscal, a defence lawyer, an advocate for the prosecution and a judge.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the video is an accessible and comprehensive guide to a system that many survivors describe as complex and disorientating. It sets out clearly each stage of the process, who is involved and what their role is. It is hoped that – in addition to ongoing work to improve the justice system for survivors of sexual violence – the video will increase access to justice for crimes that are widely underreported.

To mark the launch the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, and the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC (co-chairs to the Victims Taskforce) will meet with a group of survivors advocating for change. They will hear first-hand accounts of why survivors, with a range of experiences of accessing justice, felt let down by the criminal justice system and the improvements that could make it better for anyone who needs to go through the court process in the future.

Facilitated by Rape Crisis Scotland, the Survivor Reference Group is made up of survivors from across Scotland who have had some degree of engagement with the justice system. The group have worked to identify common issues that survivors experience in pursuing justice and make recommendations for improvement.

Sandy Brindley said:

“There’s no silver bullet when it comes to addressing the issues survivors experience within the Criminal Justice System, and even though there has been significant effort and improvements in recent years, we should be in no doubt that there is much more to do.

“Rape Crisis have always and will always support survivors whether they choose to report or not, but we believe that knowledge is power and are glad to be relaunching this video and demystifying the justice process.

“We’re pleased that the Cabinet Secretary and Lord Advocate have set aside the time to meet directly with from those who have experience of seeking justice, and we hope their voices are heard.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“Listening to the views of survivors of rape and sexual assault is vital as we work to put victims’ rights at the centre of the justice system. I am grateful to the members of the Survivor Reference Group who are prepared to speak out where the system is not delivering for their needs.

“We know the criminal justice process can be daunting and I am determined that we continue to make improvements to ensure it is trauma-informed at every stage. Only those who have been through this process can tell us what it really feels like and what matters to them.

“I hope that the new video resource will help survivors navigate the system and increase access to justice for victims of these appalling crimes.”

Hannah, a survivor said:

“In my case the experience of the Criminal Justice System was more damaging to the assault itself.

“I pursued justice with the realistic knowledge that a conviction was near impossible and that I would have to live under the shadow of a trial for long period of time. There was no way of preparing for the disappointed and mental consequences of what I experienced during that time.

“I am grateful that we have been presented with this opportunity to voice our opinions in the hopes of improving experiences of those who come after us.”

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said:

“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scotland’s independent prosecution service, is committed to doing what it can to address the difficulties experienced by some victims and witnesses of crime.

"A better understanding of the criminal justice system will play an important role in achieving that objective, and the initiative which Rape Crisis Scotland has taken in producing this video will further that aim.”‎


Notes to Editors:

The survivors meeting the Lord Advocate and Cabinet Secretary have not been involved in the production of the video.

The long video can be found here: https://youtu.be/MeFAoxFJWWU

The short overview can be found here: https://youtu.be/N249emeYVz0

For any further comment please contact Brenna Jessie at Rape Crisis Scotland on 07936362932 or


Tags: justice