New paper details impact of court delays on victims of serious sexual assault

17 August, 2020

New research from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) details the impact delays to prosecutions of serious sexual crime during Covid-19 are having in Scotland. It outlines the wide-ranging adverse consequences that come from extended delays on the health and wellbeing of victims.

‘Delays in Trials: the implications for victim-survivors of rape and serious sexual assault’, has been written by Professor Michele Burman and Dr Oona Brooks-Hay. The charity Rape Crisis Scotland, who are cited in the research, has published a legal opinion that states delays to trials may be ‘unlawful’.

The paper highlights significant challenges faced by victims and survivors of serious sexual assault as a result of delays in their case progression, poor communication, the uncertainties about trial dates and last-minute changes to court locations.

SCCJR research shows the physical, emotional and psychological toll of this struggle to have their cases heard within a reasonable time. Many develop mental and physical health problems including anxiety, night terrors, depression and suicidal thoughts because of these inordinate delays. These issues are often compounded by delayed access to therapeutic resources following the traumatic event they have experienced.

Authors of the paper are supporting calls for the Scottish Government to legislate for judge-led trials to be used in the short term to alleviate the untenable backlog.

If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault Victim Support Scotland can provide information and support.

Whoever you are and whatever the crime, we’re here to help