Abolition of ‘not proven’ looms

Abolition of 'not proven' looms

Keith Brown

Scotland’s third verdict is a step closer to being consigned to history following the publication of a new report.

An analysis report on a consultation on reform of ‘not proven’ received 200 responses from the public, legal sector and others.

The consultation also considered other potential related reforms including jury size, the majority required for conviction and the requirement for corroboration.

In Scottish criminal trials there are three verdicts available: ‘guilty’, ‘not guilty’ and ‘not proven’. The ‘not proven’ verdict is one of acquittal but has no definition in law.

The independent analysis report of the consultation responses found:

  • 50 per cent of respondents favoured verdicts of guilty and not guilty (compared to 41 per cent who supported proven and not proven)
  • a majority of respondents from a wide range of stakeholders supported a qualified jury majority of some kind if there is a move to two verdicts
  • a majority of respondents supported jury size remaining at 15 jurors
  • a higher number of respondents supported keeping the corroboration rule than reforming or abolishing it

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “I am very grateful to all of those individuals and organisations who have taken the time to contribute their views on these matters, particularly those who have shared their personal experience of the justice system.

“We must now give careful consideration to the full range of responses received. The findings from this consultation analysis will be used along with a wide range of other information and evidence to inform the decision making process on any potential recommendations for reform.

“Any potential reforms will be considered alongside wider work including the outcome of the current consultation on improving victims’ experiences of the justice system.”

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