A recent BBC article reported that the prosecution service is to be given a cash injection of £1.1m by the Scottish Government, following an increase in the number of sexual offences reported in Scotland. The extra money, which will be given to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), aims to improve communication between the prosecution service and alleged victims and minimise delays in sexual offence cases progressing to court.
Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said the additional funding “reflects the Crown’s commitment to…the effective and rigorous prosecution of sexual offences”.
Since 2010, the number of sexual offences reported in Scotland has continued to rise. In 2016-17, there were 1,878 reports made of rape or attempted rape, an increase of 4% on the previous year.
The increase in reported sex crimes is said to be due to more people coming forward to report historical sex offences as well as the increased risk that technology creates.
While increased financial support for the prosecution service to help with sexual offence cases is undoubtedly a positive move, as criminal defence solicitors we must pay careful attention to all developments in the criminal justice system in order to ensure our clients’ rights remain protected.
In the face of a “rigorous” approach to prosecuting sexual crimes, it is important that those facing false allegations are treated fairly and given the opportunity to prove their innocence. In sexual offence trials, especially those involving allegations of historic sexual abuse, the evidence relied on by the prosecution can be weak, and bias can play a major role in the jury’s decision where there is intense public interest in the case.
Our criminal defence solicitors have an extensive understanding of these issues and the approach taken by the Scottish prosecution service to sexual crime cases, having represented many clients facing such serious allegations. These cases raise complex legal and evidential issues, and can have a serious impact on the lives of those involved – even before they are concluded. That is why they are best handled with the support of a highly experienced criminal defence team.
Our sexual offence lawyers will take a meticulous approach when preparing your defence, gathering strong evidence to support your version of events and carefully assessing the prosecution’s evidence for errors and inconsistencies. It is our tenacity and commitment to protecting our clients’ rights that have earned us an excellent track record in achieving the most favourable outcomes.
If you have been accused of a sexual offence, our well-respected team can provide expert advice and representation. Call us on 01383 730 466 (Dunfermline), on 01592 640 680 (Kirkcaldy) or on 01259 725 922 (Alloa), or complete our online enquiry form.