News In Focus
Ministers pledge extra funding to deal with sex offence cases
Extra funding is to be provided to Scotland's prosecutors and courts to tackle the growth in sexual offence reports and reduce delays in bringing cases to trial.
The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service and the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (SCTS) will receive an additional £1.1m to deal with the additional caseload, work to reduce the time which cases take to come to court, and improve information provided to complainers.
Rape and attempted rape accounted for 17% of sexual crimes in 2016-17, and the trend has been rising since 2010-11. The 1,878 recorded incidents of rape include reporting of historical offences, and it is also thought there may be higher levels of reporting due to increased confidence in the ability of the justice system to deal with such cases.
The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, said: "The additional funding which the Justice Secretary has announced responds to the current and projected growth in reports of sexual crime, and the changing profile and complexity of these cases. It will be directed to reducing the time before court proceedings commence, and to improving the provision of information to complainers."
Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service, added: "With the increasing level of sexual offending cases proceeding to trial, the additional £0.3m for the SCTS will allow trials to start at the earliest opportunity and minimise the need for trials to be moved to other court locations, where it is not in the best interest of the complainer or witnesses."
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf commented: "Many victims of sexual offences are understandably anxious about the criminal justice process and there is a risk that without appropriate support and reassurance the prosecution process can compound their trauma. That is why we are providing this extra funding to help ensure cases reach court as quickly as possible and to improve communication with victims.
"Despite the recent increase in sexual offence reports we know that such crimes continue to be under-reported. This additional funding is just one of the actions we have put in place to help give victims confidence to report crimes by ensuring they are offered support at each step of the process."