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Controversial policy could see rape victims jailed

This news post is about 6 years old

Rape Crisis Scotland has said it has concerns over new Crown Office guidance which aims to ensure victims testify

Rape victims who refuse to give evidence in court could be jailed under new guidelines.

Third Force News reported last month that the Crown Office has produced new guidance on getting victims to testify in court.

Rape Crisis Scotland has said that the plans – which could see arrest warrants issued for victims who are reluctant to appear in court - mean more people will retract their statements.

And news that victims could face jail if they fail to comply with court requirements has been met with further concern.

In response to a question from SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo failed to guarantee that victims of rape would never be sent to prison for failing to give evidence against alleged attackers.

She said: said: "We can never exclude the possibility that there could be circumstances where a witness warrant might be sought if a complainer refused to attend at court when lawfully cited.

"Whilst we accept that, we expect this would and could only arise in the most exceptional circumstances."

Di Rollo met with Rape Crisis last week, but the charity said they are still worried about the effects of the new policy.

Coordinator Sandy Brindley said: "Alison Di Rollo said she had never seen a warrant issued but that is because until 12 March the policy was not to compel witness to give evidence. They have reassured us that this would only be used in exceptional circumstances but for any rape complainer facing the possibility of this, it is difficult to see that as a reassurance.

"The crown were also unable to reassure us someone isn't potentially going to face jail in these circumstances. For someone to have the courage to report a rape and then face the possibility - even if remote - that they fact jail is very concerning.”