Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland Working Group


The Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland has been set up to independently consider how the Scottish criminal justice system deals with misogyny. This includes looking at whether there are gaps in the law that could be addressed by a specific criminal offence to tackle such behaviour.

The group will also consider whether a statutory aggravation and/or a stirring up of hatred offence in relation to the characteristic of sex should be added to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) legislation by regulation at a future date.

The group is chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC. She has appointed a panel of six experts with specialisms in Scots law, human rights, women’s equality and perpetrator behaviours relating to gender based violence.


Phase one: build a picture of the experiences of women and girls

Build a picture of the experiences of women and girls in Scotland and internationally, applying a gendered analytical lens, through the consideration of existing data sets, literature reviews and lived experience. 

Set out the principles which will support a shared understanding of how these experiences are influenced and/or driven by misogynistic behaviour and/or attitudes and where this behaviour is, or should be, a criminal offence. 

Phase two: map phase one outputs onto the criminal law in Scotland

Consider the outputs of Phase One and map these onto the criminal law in Scotland as it stands. 

Identify whether there are gaps in the existing law and/or where there is a failure to implement existing legislation in a way that protects women and girls. This will include whether the characteristics of sex should be included within the hate crime framework as a statutory aggravation and/or if sex should be added to stirring up hatred offences (subject to the Bill as passed).

Consider the legal practice in Scotland and internationally that offers the best protection for women and girls and examine how misogyny may be best tackled through a legal lens. 

Phase three: map phase one outputs onto the criminal law in Scotland

The core working group will work in partnership to develop a specific definition of misogyny within a Scottish legal context, taking account of behaviours that already fall within criminal law and actions that can be taken out with the criminal law to address women’s experiences relating to misogynistic behaviour or inequality, challenge men’s behaviour and wider societal attitudes.

Working group meetings

A number of closed evidence sessions, from a wide range of sources, will be held by the working group, over the coming year with a view to reporting its findings to the Scottish Government within 12 months, as recommended by the Justice Committee in their Stage 1 report.

Full membership of the group was announced on 1 February 2021. 

Inaugural meeting – 12 February 2021 

Second meeting – 19 March 2021 

Nottinghamshire case study

Evidence heard:

  • Love and Power and Citizens UK 
  • Susannah Fish, OBE QPM MBA, retired Chief Constable, Nottinghamshire Police Force


Baroness Helena Kennedy QC - Chair

Baroness Kennedy QC has previously undertaken judicial reviews, public enquiries and sex discrimination work, and as has extensive experience in the public sector and Scots Law. She led the 2004/05 Inquiry into Sudden Infant Death for the Royal College of Pathologists, currently the Char of the Human Genetics Commission, and Vice President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equity. Baroness Kennedy was awarded a life peerage in 1997.

Mona Rishmawi

Chief of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch in the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Joins the group in an advisory capacity.

Dr Chloe Kennedy

Senior Lecturer of Criminal Law at Edinburgh University, specialising in Criminal Law and Gender, and Law and Religion.

Susan Kemp

Scots lawyer with experience in international criminal and human rights law in Latin America, the United States, Europe and Africa. Commissioner with the Scottish Human Rights Institute Council (2015 to 2021) ad currently a member of the IBA Human Rights Institute Council.

Emma Ritch

Executive Director at Engender, leading on strategic collaboration in the women’s, equalities and human rights sectors. Emma also sits on a range of external working groups, including the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls.

Shelagh McCall QC

A leading Scottish criminal practitioner and appointment Queens Counsel in 2015. She as Prosecution Appeals Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and was a founding commissioner at the Scottish Human Rights Commission. Shelagh is a part time sheriff and member of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland.

Professor John Devaney

Centenary professor of social work at the University of Edinburgh, awarded a fellowship to study work in Norway and Canada with those who are violent and abusive within intimate relationships. Specialist academic in child protections, welfare, domestic abuse and gender based violence.