New project to look at rape complainants and victims’ engagement with criminal justice process

New project to look at rape complainants and victims' engagement with criminal justice process

Michael Matheson

A new project aims to identify and understand the factors that affect whether individuals who allege to have been raped or sexually assaulted choose to engage with the criminal justice process.

Researchers at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) will also consider how the system can support those who claim to have been raped or sexually assaulted to give their evidence in the best way.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced the Scottish government-funded project ahead of a meeting with Rape Crisis Scotland, where he and Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood will hear a woman’s personal experience of the justice process.

He said: “Listening to the views of survivors of rape and sexual assault is so important and I am humbled by the courage of those who are prepared to speak out where the system is not delivering for their needs. “Going through the justice process can be a daunting experience and I am determined that we do more so that all stages are victim-centred and trauma-informed.

“This research will help identify examples of best practice and the changes needed to improve victim-survivor confidence in the system, and ensure it balances responding to the needs of the very vulnerable with the rights of the accused.”

Dr Oona Brooks-Hay, lecturer in Criminology at SCCJR, University of Glasgow and lead researcher said: “This research will be an important opportunity to speak directly to victim-survivors of rape and sexual assault about their lived experiences from the beginning to the end of the criminal justice process.

“Only those who have been through this process can tell us what it really feels like and what matters to them. We know from our earlier research about the role of Rape Crisis Advocacy Workers that a number of challenges remain in what can often be a difficult and lengthy process.

“Developing an in-depth understanding of victim-survivors’ needs, expectations and experiences as they progress through their own ‘justice journey’ is crucial to improving their encounters with the criminal justice system and the evidence that they are able to provide.”

Share icon
Share this article: