The Governance Group established a number of working groups to undertake detailed consideration of specific recommendations or aspects of recommendations contained within the Lady Dorrian Review, namely:
- creation of a national, specialist sexual offences court
- consideration of a time-limited pilot of single judge rape trials
- development of a pilot programme for communicating information to juries regarding certain common rape myths and stereotypes
Members of the working groups were comprised of representatives from separate organisations drawn from the membership of the Governance Group, who were specifically chosen to provide the perspective of, and insights from, different parts of the justice system. Each working group was given its own terms of reference which set out the remit and membership of the group. The report and recommendations of each working group were considered and approved collectively by the Governance Group during September and October of 2022 and reflect the views of members at the time that they were approved.
Some of the organisations represented on the Governance Group were, however, unable to endorse specific recommendations. In particular, the Risk Management Authority indicated that it could not support the recommendation in the Specialist Sexual Offences Court Working Group Paper to enable judges appointed to preside over cases in the court to impose Orders for Lifelong Restrictions (OLR). Additionally, the Law Society of Scotland highlighted that they did not support the creation of a specialist court as separate from existing structures and could not therefore support any of the recommendations contained within the Specialist Sexual Offences Court Working Group Paper.
Specialist Sexual Offences Court Working Group
The Specialist Sexual Offences Court Working Group was specifically established to consider the creation of a national specialist court for serious sexual offences (the New Court) with the core features as recommended by the Review. The following report provides the Governance Group with an overview of the considerations and the ultimate recommendations of their work on Recommendation 2 of the Review in Improving the Management of Sexual Offence Cases, in so far as applicable.
Consideration of a Time-Limited Pilot of Single Judge Rape Trials Working Group
A second working group, the Consideration of a Time-Limited Pilot of Single Judge Rape Trials Working Group was established to consider Recommendation 5 of the Review. Their remit was to provide perspectives and insight into a broad set of issues related to the establishment of a pilot in order to inform the Governance Group’s recommendation to Ministers as to the way in which a pilot could be structured. The following report provides the Governance Group with an overview of their findings and recommendations. The international evidence briefing on alternatives to jury trials, including single judge trials has also been published.
Enhancing the Quality of Jury Involvement Working Group
The Enhancing the Quality of Jury Involvement Working Group was established to explore the implementation of a pilot programme intended to challenge rape myths and preconceptions among juries. The following report provides the Governance Group with an overview of recommendations arising from their consideration of aspects of Recommendation 4(a) of the Review.
In considering the outputs from the three working groups it was the view of Governance Group members that each report makes a detailed and compelling contribution to consideration of how these recommendations might be implemented and does so in a way that enjoys a broad base of support from partners across the justice system. Following its consideration of these reports, the Governance Group has now given its endorsement to the findings and recommendations of all three working groups.
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