Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick has spoken out in support of the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will bring forward a Criminal Justice Reform Bill which will propose the end of the ‘Not Proven’ verdict in Scots Law and include a range of measures such as protecting the anonymity of complainers in cases of a sexual offence. The announcement came as part of the Scottish Government’s 2022-23 Programme for Government.
Speaking in the Chamber following the announcement, the SNP MSP – who has spoken out in the past about her own experience of sexual assault – discussed the significance of these proposed changes specifically for women, drawing on the play “Prima Facie” which explores the experiences of victims of sexual assault in court, reflecting on the fact that their perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. She commented:
“The disproportionately high usage of the ‘Not Proven’ verdict in rape cases in Scotland is incredibly harmful to victims of sexual abuse, the majority of which are women. This is exacerbated even further for disabled, Black, and minority ethnic women. Rape Crisis Scotland found that the ‘Not Proven’ verdict made up 44% of rape and attempted rape acquittals compared with 20% for all crimes and offences, illustrating that the law does not work for women.
“I sincerely welcome the significant news that the Scottish Government is pressing forward with these much-needed changes, which have the potential to address a horrendous imbalance in our justice system and make it possible for a survivor to even imagine that their case might succeed.
“I understand that the reforms will not be easy and will be controversial, but they are worth it and it is personally meaningful to me that the Scottish Government feels that they are worth it, too.”