Sexual Offences Review webpage and terms of reference launched
The Sexual Offences Review has published its webpage and terms of reference to give information to the public and professionals about its work on reviewing how the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) deals with reports of sexual offences.
The review was commissioned by Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC in recognition of the “profound impact that sexual violence crimes have on victims and on society”, and the fact that sexual offences now account for at least 70 per cent of the casework of Scotland’s High Court prosecutors.
Susanne Tanner KC has been appointed to chair the review, assisted by colleagues seconded from COPFS.
The webpage gives information to members of the public and professionals about the work of the review, including its terms of reference. The webpage will be regularly updated and provide members of the public with a helpful resource.
The terms of reference have been approved by the lord advocate and set out what the review will consider, including, protecting the rights, needs and interests of victims; the rights of accused; the relationship between the prosecution and other agencies; best practice in Scotland and other countries; and how the prosecution approach to sexual offences can be future-proofed.
The review team is currently planning for the evidence gathering phase of the review which will run from the end of 2022 until early 2023.
Ms Bain said: “I welcome this milestone in the Sexual Offences Review which will enable members of the public and professionals to follow the progress of the review and to provide their views.
“I am delighted that Susanne is taking forward this crucial work and I am confident she will make a significant contribution.”
Ms Tanner said: “We will be collecting information in a variety of ways including focus groups and interviews. We are speaking to a range of people including victims of sexual crime, those charged with an offence, defence solicitors and counsel, academics, police, court staff, prosecution colleagues, third sector support agencies and prosecutors in other countries, to see how they are dealing with these challenging cases.
“I hope that the outcome of this review will further develop the prosecution response to sexual offending in a way which focuses on justice and is sensitive to the needs of victims.”
Ms Tanner will make findings and recommendations to improve the way in which reports of sexual offences are dealt with and they will be published on the webpage in autumn 2023.