Sex offences make up two-thirds of High Court cases

Two-thirds of High Court cases in Scotland deal with sex offences. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Two-thirds of High Court cases in Scotland deal with sex offences. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Sex offences now account for two thirds of the cases going through Scotland’s High Court, according to prosecutors.

A major conference being held in Glasgow today will hear from experts from the Crown Office, Police Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Kath Harper, head of the Crown Office’s National Sexual Crimes Unit (NSCU), said: “The prosecution of sexual offences has and always will be a top priority.

“Over two thirds of cases going through the High Court at any time now relate to sexual offences which we believe is due to a combination of factors including the impact of the changes made by the 2009 Sexual Offences Act, the effect of the Savile case raising awareness of such crimes, and the increased specialisation in both COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) and Police Scotland leading to an increase in convictions and of course the increased confidence of victims who have had the courage to come forward and report these offences.”

She added: “However we are not complacent and appreciate more work needs to be done with police, stakeholders and media to further expose rape myths and ensure that we work across jurisdictions to bring perpetrators to justice.”

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: “Tackling sexual crime and protecting those at risk of sexual crime is a priority for Police Scotland. As a single force we are in a unique position to deliver a consistent service right across the country, in all our communities.

“People are much more confident about reporting sexual crime in the knowledge it will be investigated. However the nature of the crimes being reported and the subsequent investigations is changing.

“Online offending is an increasing concern, whether it is domestic abuse related incidents or child abuse including child sexual exploitation. And we are dealing with a significant increase in non-recent sexual offending.

“These are complex crimes often involving very vulnerable people, and investigations can be difficult because of the nature of the crimes, but we are committed to investigating every report we receive.”