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Expert Court to deal with serious sexual offences in Scotland

Sushree Mohanty

A review committee has suggested the setting up of a special court in Scotland for managing sexual offences of serious nature.

A cross-justice review committee has put forth the proposition for the new expert court. This Expert Court would work with “trauma educated” practices and advocates who are trained in managing the witnesses.

The committee was mainly entrusted with improving the experience of the complainers in sexual offense cases in the Scottish courts. This is to be done without compromising on the rights granted to the accused.

Its report likewise suggests the utilization of pre-recorded proof which would be produced in court on behalf of the complainant, subject to the permission of the court, and thus lessening the requirement for the complainant to appear personally.

The Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, who led the committee, said: “The audit was influenced specifically by the development in volume and intricacy of sexual offence cases influencing all segments of the criminal justice framework.

“I’m appreciative to the committee ,and to every one of the individuals who added to its work, for their responsibility and transparency, and for the ‘clean sheet approach’ individuals embraced for this task, which has empowered a full extent of proposals to be made for the consideration of the Lord Justice General”, she added.

At the proposed court, High Court Judges and police personnel will be entertaining cases. They are to be trained in trauma educated practices and handling of vulnerable witnesses. The training would include certified courses for managing the witnesses and the utilization of assessment strategies.

The court would have condemned powers of ten years’ imprisonment with an arrangement for transmit to the High Court for longer sentences whenever required. The review report prescribes measures to improve the current experience of complainants. The specific motive is to improve the correspondence and steps to upgrade jury inclusion.

It proposes certain changes in the Children’s Hearings System and inclusion for the appropriation of trauma informed practice.

Sandy Brindley, Chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “Generally the survivors reveal to us that the procedure for justice – and specifically their involvement with court – is just about as least as horrible as the attack(s) itself. Therefore huge changes in the system are required and thus the report of the committee, led by Lady Dorrian, is significant and vital.”

“The suggestions are strong, proof based and can possibly change Scotland’s stand on sexual offences”, she said.

The committee includes individuals from the legal executive, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland, Police Scotland, Scottish Government and several other associations.

Detective Chief Superintendent Samantha McCluskey, of Police Scotland, stated that the authorities are aware of how troublesome it is to tend to reports on sexual offences. Therefore they are taking all necessary steps to improve the police actions towards such reports of assault and sexual crimes.

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