The Justice Journeys report documents the experiences of victim-survivors of rape and sexual assault as they navigate the Scottish criminal justice system. It begins with the decision to report to the police and continues through to investigation, prosecution, trial and court verdict. The research underpinning the report is based on in-depth interviews with 17 male and female participants, whose cases reached varying stages of the criminal justice process in Scotland.
The difficulties victim-survivors face when seeking criminal justice occur at multiple stages throughout the process. Some take place at identifiable points, such as the re-traumatising experience of providing a police statement or during questioning at trial about intimate sexual matters, including challenges to credibility and reliability, within an adversarial context. Other difficulties, however, are far more generalised and occur throughout the process: in particular, mis-matches between victim-survivor expectations and experiences; inadequate communication between officials and victim-survivors; the lengthy duration of the process; the physical environments of police stations and courts; victim-survivor concern about their safety; their feeling of being marginal to the process; perceptions of the system being weighted in favour of the accused; and belief that the current system does not adequately represent their interests.
These concerns raise questions about how victim-survivors can be best prepared, informed, supported, and represented in the criminal justice process. The report considers what ‘achieving justice’ looks like for victim-survivors of rape and sexual assault and it makes 28 recommendations for future policy and practice.
The Justice Journeys report was co-authored by Dr Oona Brooks-Hay, Professor Michele Burman and Dr Lisa Bradley, at SCCJR, University of Glasgow. The research was grant funded by the Scottish Government, Justice Analytical Services. The report can be viewed below, and is available for download from the SCCJR website, here. Our 2018 report evaluating the National Advocacy Project within Rape Crisis Scotland may also be of interest and is available for download from the SCCJR website, here.