New sexual harm laws introduced in Scotland

Sex abuse

​News laws aimed at protecting victims come into force today 

24th April 2017 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

Four new laws aimed at tackling abusive behaviour and sexual harm come into force today (Monday) including a law for judges to direct juries when dealing with trials relating to certain sexual offences.

It is now mandatory for judges to give special information to guide juries in certain sexual offence trials.

The move is designed to challenge any pre-conceived notions jurors may have about how a person should react when they are the victim of a sexual offence.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Abusive behaviour and sexual harm will not be tolerated in Scotland. Tackling these crimes requires a bold response and speedy and effective enforcement which is why we have introduced new laws to improve the way our justice system responds.

“By continuing to modernise the law we can support victims in accessing justice and ensure perpetrators are properly held to account for their actions.

“As victims of sexual offences have increasing confidence in reporting to the police this new requirement for judges to direct juries will make a real difference in enabling juries to approach court evidence in an informed way.

“All of the measures coming in to force have one thing in common. They will improve the way the justice system responds to abusive behaviour and help ensure perpetrators are clear that their actions will have consequences.”

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 also introduces other measures designed to improve the justice system’s response to these types of crime, including the introduction of a new statutory aggravation, which means courts will be required to take into account whether or not an offence involved abuse of a partner or ex-partner.

And an extension of the law concerning certain sexual offences committed against children to allow for prosecution in Scottish courts of offences committed elsewhere in the UK. 

Rape Crisis Scotland coordinator Sandy Brindley said: “Survivors often tell us that during a rape they froze and were unable to fight back or scream. 

“This is a completely natural and common reaction, but not always one that members of the public will necessarily be aware of.

“We welcome the introduction of jury directions in rape cases as a significant step forward. 

"Providing jury members with factual information on different reactions to rape should help to ensure that verdicts in sexual offence cases are based on the evidence presented, rather than being influenced by assumptions about how rape victims should react.”

12th May 2017 by Rebbecca Rae -Clapham

Great news to hear the changes in which a case is looked at may make the victims more likely to report such crimes against humanity