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Sexual offences convictions on the rise

7 July 2010

Conviction rates in sex offence cases have shown a sharp improvement, according to new figures released by Crown Office.

A detailed breakdown of the outcomes reveals that conviction rates increased by 50% year-on-year, from 8% of incidents reported to the police in 2006-07 to 12% during 2007-08. The figures have met with a positive response from campaigners and others who have previously criticised the low number of successful prosecutions in such cases.

Today’s report appears to be somewhat undermined by figures released in April, which found conviction rates for rape in 2008-09 had hit a 25-year low of 3%. However, the Crown Office believes its latest numbers are more indicative of the true situation, as the 3% figure discounted cases where rape was not the most serious crime, or where a verdict of sexual assault was reached instead.

The push to improve conviction rates in this area was one driver behind the enactment of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act last year. The Act created a range of new statutory offences, criminalising sexual conduct which takes place without consent and establishing that such consent may be withdrawn at any time.

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