The Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC has ordered a review of how prosecutors deal with reports of sexual offences. She announced the review in an evidence session at the Criminal Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament.
The review is in recognition of the profound impact that these crimes have on victims and on society, and the fact that sexual offences now account for 70% of the casework of Scotland’s High Court prosecutors.
Susanne Tanner QC, who has recently been appointed Assistant Principal Crown Counsel, will conduct this important work.
The Lord Advocate also announced that COPFS will carry out a separate review of its Victim Information and Advice service.
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC said:
“The World Health Organisation describes sexual violence against women as a major public health problem and a violation of women’s human rights which perpetuates gender inequality.
“Scotland has a lot to learn about attitudes towards women and the intolerable levels of sexual violence in society. There is a responsibility on all of us to do what we can to address these profound challenges.
“Scotland’s prosecutors work with justice partners as we strive to ensure that victims are treated with dignity and respect. Furthermore, COPFS is committed to working with those partners to transform the way the criminal justice system deals with these cases.
“I have commissioned Susanne Tanner QC to become Assistant Principal Crown Counsel and to conduct a full review of how prosecutors deal with reports of sexual offences. The remit of the review will be approved by me in due course and will take into account the views of victims and agencies from across the criminal justice system.
“It will build upon the existing specialist approach prosecutors have to sexual offences cases, and the expertise they have in this work.
“I am delighted that Susanne is taking forward this crucial work and I am confident she will make a significant contribution.
“Secondly, the changing profile of prosecution casework and the backlog created by the pandemic have placed huge pressures on the Crown’s victim information staff.“I am pleased to announce that Deputy Crown Agent Lindsey Miller will lead a review of this work to ensure COPFS can continue to deliver the high levels of support and advice to all victims and witnesses that they do currently."
Susanne Tanner QC said:
“I am honoured to have this opportunity to improve the experience of everyone involved in cases dealing with sexual offences in Scotland. I am determined that this review will further develop the prosecutorial response to sexual offending in a way which focuses on justice and is sensitive to the needs of victims.”