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Jury research - engagement events: summary of discussions

Summary of discussions at jury research engagement events.


Engagement sessions

8. Between November 2019 and March 2020, the Scottish Government arranged events involving a broad range of stakeholders across the country from sectors including legal professionals (defence, prosecution and members of the judiciary), third sector organisations, survivors, academics, people with experience of the criminal justice system, and officials from various public bodies. Sessions were held in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, as well as an online virtual discussion, and a number of bilaterals with individuals with experience of the criminal justice system. A full list can be seen in Annex A[1].

9. Attendees with further comments and those who were unable to attend were advised that they could write in with views. A submission was received from JUSTICE Scotland – an all-party law reform and human rights organisation working to strengthen the justice system – administrative, civil and criminal – in the United Kingdom and can be read in full at
https://justice.org.uk/justice-submits-consultation-on-the-scottish-jury-research-findings/

10. One of the members of the jury research team, Professor Vanessa Munro carried out subsequent interviews to explore the experience of being a complainer in a criminal trial that results in an acquittal verdict, with particular focus on the experience of receiving a not proven verdict. This research is available at http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/137857/1/WRAP-91104-Law-Research-Report-Munro-2020.pdf

11. Although efforts were made to attract a broad range of participants, the majority of those who attended the sessions were from the legal profession, predominantly from defence backgrounds, with smaller numbers from other sectors, which will have had an influence on the matters discussed and the views expressed. Consequently, this summary aims to present the range of views held by participants, rather than focusing solely on the strength of opinion.

12. While this summary relies on a relatively small sample of some sectors and so cannot purport to offer a statistically representative sample, the qualitative data yielded through these discussions provides important insight into the views held within these sectors, across which a number of substantive themes were present. It has been highlighted throughout the report where there were differing views within and between sectors.

13. Participants were encouraged to read the report before they attended the events and at the outset of each session a short introduction on the research and its findings set the scene for the discussion. The sessions consisted of interactive table discussions (facilitated by Scottish Government officials) to hear participants’ views on the implications of the jury research findings, how these accord with their own experiences of the criminal justice system and whether they are in favour of potential criminal justice reforms[2]. As well as considering the findings from the jury research report, these events also provided an opportunity to hear participants’ views on related reforms such as corroboration.

14. The following questions were discussed by participants:

  • Based on the research findings and your own experience do you consider that any reforms are needed to jury size? If so, what and why?
  • Based on the research findings and your own experience, do you consider that any reforms are needed to jury majority? If so, what and why?
  • Based on the research findings and your own experience, do you consider that any reforms are needed to jury verdicts? If so, what and why?
  • The jury research was recommended as part of Lord Bonomy’s post -corroboration safeguards review. Do you think that any reforms should also consider abolition of the corroboration rule? If this was considered, what other reforms would need to be considered alongside?

15. After early engagement with a campaign group[3] who had specific corroboration reform proposals, including that corroboration of penetration should not be required, and corroboration should not be necessary for historic sexual offences, it was decided to take the opportunity to raise these more specific reforms during the engagement events.

Contact

Email: JuryResearch@gov.scot

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