43 Tayside legal staff now trained as specialists in the investigation of sexual offences

02 September 2009

Marlyn Glen has welcomed news from Solicitor-General for Scotland, Frank Mullholland, that 43 members of staff in Tayside in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have completed training as specialists to prosecute cases in sexual crime.

Ms. Glen had raised the matter with the Scottish Government following the publication of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill which will now provide a statutory definition of rape and consent.

In the last two years 2006-2008, there were a total of 113 cases of rape reported to the police in Tayside, only 3 of which resulted in prosecution, and none of which was proved.

Ms. Glen said, " It is concern with low rates of prosecutions that have led to calls for marked changes in the way that rape is handled by the police and the courts in Scotland.

" The appointment of those with specialist training is a welcome recognition of the need to improve the level of successful prosecutions.

"Many more women must receive the justice that they are entitled to under the law."

In reply to Ms. Glen, Mr. Mulholland said,

"In 2004, the COPFS conducted a review of how rape and serious sexual offences are investigated and prosecuted which produced a report that led to the Law officers making fifty recommendations for change June 2006.

"The Lord Advocate gave a commitment to delivering on the recommendations over a three-year period.

"One of the principal recommendations of the review was that specialism in the investigation of sexual offences be achieved by the development of a system of approval for all staff working in this area.

"The first condition of approval is that staff undertake a programme of specialist training in sexual crime.

"A comprehensive programme of training has been developed and delivered to prosecution staff through the delivery of interactive electronic learning modules. ( e-learning modules) and a two day sexual offences training course at the Scottish Prosecution College.

"The training programme includes training from senior police officers, Rape Crisis Scotland, Crown Counsel and Procurators Fiscal on all aspects of the investigation of sexual crime.

"To date, 43 members of staff who have worked within the Tayside area of COPFS have completed that programme.

"The final condition of the approval process requires trained staff to demonstrate that they can meet the standards required by the training and guidance in the work that they undertake.

"To this end trained staff are required to satisfy Crown Office when completing a sexual offence pre-recognition that the key elements of the guidance and training have been implemented.

"Since 1st. July of this year, only members of legal and pre-cognition staff who have been trained and approved to investigate sexual offences in accordance with the Service’s approval criteria will investigate and supervise sexual offences cases."

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