Case outcomes and sentencing in Scotland


Rape and attempted rape have the highest of all acquittal rates in Scotland, at 52%, followed by sexual assault at 39%. The differences in conviction rates are very stark when compared with the average acquittal rate for crimes and offences, which is just 6% (Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2018-2019).


For many years, the conviction rate for rape and attempted rape has been the lowest of all crimes in Scotland (Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2018-2019). In the last two years, there has been a slight increase in the proportion of rapes and attempted rapes prosecuted that have resulted in a conviction, from 43% to 47%, however it remains the lowest compared to all other crimes and offences. In 2018-19, 2,343 rapes and attempted rapes were reported to the police, yet there wereonly 152 convictions.


Due to the severity of the crime, a custodial sentence is the most frequently used disposal for rape and attempted rape, being imposed on 93% of those convicted. Rape and attempted rape also attract the longest average custodial sentence of all crime types, with the exception of a life sentence. The average custodial sentence length for rape and attempted rape is 7 years.