Advisory group on sexual crime

Further to the Lord Advocate's comments on Scottish rape law (no 760) and the proposed introduction of a Rape and Sexual Offences Bill (further to the Scottish Law Commission report on the subject – no 718) the Scottish government has established an expert advisory group on sexual crime comprising representatives from Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal offices, Rape Crisis Scotland, and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.  The group is intended to scrutinise policy and practice in the prosecution of sexual offences to address concerns that conviction rates for rape and sexual offences are too low.

 In the launch of the group Andrew McIntyre, Head of Victim Policy at the Crown Office, said,

"There is no doubt that this is one of the most challenging areas of crime to prosecute. Analysis of the Criminal Proceedings Statistics published last week by the Scottish Government shows that the widely reported conviction rate figure of 3.9 per cent, which is obtained by comparing reports to the police with convictions at court, is down to 2.9 per cent for 2006-07.  This figure does require to be treated with caution as incidents reported to the police in one year can result in a conviction at court in another year; and it includes cases where the police have insufficient evidence to report to the Fiscal, and cases where the Fiscal has insufficient evidence in law to bring a prosecution. However it is a widely reported and recognised indicator of the difficulties in obtaining a conviction in the crime of rape.  The same statistics do show that, where we were able to bring a prosecution for rape before the court, 41% of accused people were convicted."