Section 57 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill proposes the abolition of the absolute requirement for corroboration as a rule of law. It does not propose the abolition of the principle or practice of corroboration.
Police Scotland has consistently maintained its support for section 57 and does so for one simple reason – justice.
The abolition of the absolute requirement for corroboration could result in more than 3,500 additional cases being reported to the Crown. Police Scotland believes that by abolishing the absolute requirement a significant number of these victims will gain access to our justice system previously denied them.
The proposed change would allow all evidence to be presented to the Crown and ultimately the court, whether sitting with a jury or not. We believe judges and juries should be provided with all available evidence and trusted to reach a determination as to whether or not the charge has been established beyond reasonable doubt.
The removal of the requirement will benefit victims, but not at the expense of the rights of accused. Fairness remains at the centre of Scots Criminal Law. Indeed, significant changes in criminal procedure around solicitor access and disclosure have provided additional and robust protection for the rights of those accused of criminality. These reforms have been overdue modernisations of our criminal procedure and practice and together with our core duty of fairness ensure that Police Scotland will continue to gather the best evidence available in all investigations.
It is to maintain the balance of fairness, between the public interest, the interests of victims and of accused that the fair and sensible proposal contained within section 57 of the bill deserves greater consideration than it appears to be receiving.
Police Scotland considers the proposed abolition of the absolute requirement for corroboration represents a further progressive development in our criminal law which will provide access to justice for victims of crime.
Deputy Chief Constable
Crime and Operational Support, Police Scotland