A copy of responses to the consultation relating to juryless trials and information about the consultation, including its timescale and the process relating to decision-making about juryless trials. You also asked about the Scottish Government's plans to tackle domestic abuse.
The Scottish Government's consultation on improving victims' experiences of the justice system sought views on a range of issues, including single judge trials. The consultation was open to the public and ran from 12 May 2022 to 19 August 2022.
Some of the information you have requested is available at Improving victims' experiences of the justice system: consultation - Scottish Government consultations - Citizen Space. All responses to the consultation, where permission has been given to publish them, can be accessed via this page, along with further information about the consultation, the consultation paper itself and an analysis of the consultation responses.
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you, but I note that you have asked for copies of the responses in paper format. If you still require these, I can send these to you if you provide a postal address to which they can be sent.
The responses to the consultation helped to inform the Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill, which includes provisions that enable a pilot of single judge trials for cases of rape and attempted rape. This Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 25 April 2023 and is currently at Stage 1 of the parliamentary process. Further information about the Bill and the parliamentary process can be found here - Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill – Bills (proposed laws) – Scottish Parliament | Scottish Parliament Website.
The Scottish Parliament's Criminal Justice Committee issued a public call for views about the Bill that opened on 19 June 2023 and ran until 8 September 2023. Published responses to that call for views can be found here - Published responses for Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill - Scottish Parliament - Citizen Space.
The Criminal Justice Committee is currently hearing evidence about Parts 1 to 3 of the Bill, with evidence about the provisions relating to the pilot of single judge trials to be heard in due course. Minutes of the Committee meetings where the Bill is discussed and any correspondence sent from or to the Committee about the Bill is published here - Stage 1 | Scottish Parliament Website.
Information about the how Bills progress through Parliament can be found here - How a Bill becomes an Act | Scottish Parliament Website.
In relation to your question about plans to tackle domestic abuse, the Scottish Government has been clear that it is vital that perpetrators are held to account, and that women and children have access to frontline services dealing with violence and domestic abuse. The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 created a specific offence of domestic abuse that covers not just physical abuse, but also other forms of psychological abuse as well as coercive and controlling behaviour, which you highlight. Recent research on the operation of this legislation found that it does better reflect victims’ experiences. This research can be found here - 2. Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018: shifting understandings of domestic abuse - Domestic abuse court experiences - perspectives of victims and witnesses: research findings - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).
The Sottish Government is also clear that we must treat domestic abuse survivors with compassion, and availability of services which acknowledge the significant trauma they experience. Since the launch of the 2018 Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act, the Scottish Government has:
- established a Domestic Homicide Review taskforce to help prevent homicides in Scotland where domestic abuse is suspected
- invested £53.2m in 2022/23 and £50m in 2021/22 for recovery, renewal and transformation activity as we emerged from the pandemic
- ensured the budget for 2023/24 protects justice recovery funding, with £42.2m allocated, including over £26m for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to maintain enhanced court capacity, helping to address backlogs
- introduced new Evidence by Commission suites - where vulnerable witnesses can give evidence away from a court room - in order to improve their experience when providing evidence for court cases
- awarded £48m of funding to 23 organisations in Scotland over three years (until March 2025), through our Victim-Centred Approach Fund, including £18.5m for specialist advocacy support for survivors of gender-based violence.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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