Sexual and Violent Crime

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 8 September 2022.

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Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

I welcome the fact that the Scottish Government has made justice such an important part of the programme for government. I know that the First Minister agrees that underlying those horrendous figures is the huge societal and global problem of male violence against women, which we need to tackle with urgency in Scotland. However, the length of time that a case can take to come to court does not help victims to come forward. We should also bear in mind, as the First Minister said, that such crimes disproportionately affect women and children.

However, the Government recently extended time limits for court cases in the justice system. For example, in the preparation of a Crown case for the High Court, the limit used to be 80 days, but it is now 260 days. Therefore, some victims of sexual assault and rape have been dropping cases because they cannot bear to wait the years that it sometimes takes to go to trial.

What can the First Minister do to ensure that, month on month, those delays are coming down as we go towards 2025? What reassurance can the First Minister provide to victims of sexual crime that they will not have to wait years for justice?