The creation of a court dedicated to sexual offences in Scotland is currently under review, judge Lord Matthews has announced.
Led by Scotland’s second most senior judge, Lady Dorrian, the review group will look at how the country deals with rape and violent sexual crimes. According to a spokesperson for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS), ‘the group is considering a number of options, of which establishment of a sexual offences court could be one possible option’.
The review is being led by members of the judiciary and representatives of the SCTS, Crown Office, Police Scotland, as well as organisations including Rape Crisis Scotland and Victim Support Scotland. The findings from the review are expected to be presented at the beginning of next year.
Official statistics have confirmed that reported sexual crimes continue to increase across Scotland, which is subsequently putting pressure on the criminal justice system. The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland’s review – Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Crimes - discovered that sexual offences constituted three-quarters of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the High Court’s workload during 2017; an increase of 25 per cent from two years previous.
Humza Yousaf commented that the rise in sex crimes is due to a surge in reported offences of which occurred years before, with 41 per cent of recorded rape and attempted rape being historic during the April 2018-March 2019 period. Head of corporate affairs at the Scottish Prison Service, Tom Fox, also revealed the number of people serving sentences for sexual offences has more than doubled since 2000, with a significant amount being elderly inmates convicted of historic sexual crimes.
According to the latest data, the number of reported sexual crimes has increased eight per cent since last year – from 12,487 to 13,547 – and jumped 108 per cent from figures in 2009/10. Report of rape and attempted rape are also up eight per cent since 2017/18 (from 2,255 to 2,425) and increased 115 per cent compared with data from 2010/11. The recording of sexual offences as a whole is at the highest level since 1971; the first year in which comparable statistics became available.
Sexual assault accounted for 38 per cent of all sexual crimes in 2018/19, rape and attempted rape was reported at 18 per cent, while crimes associated with prostitution made up two per cent of the total. The biggest category, however, was Other sexual crimes at 43 per cent. This category included crimes such as communicating indecently, taking, possessing and distributing indecent photos of children, as well as disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image.
If you have been charged with sexual assault, grooming, rape, or an historic sexual offence, do not delay and speak with a member of our qualified team today by calling 0141 336 2020 or via the online enquiry form.