One of the key provisions in Part 6 of the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill is the introduction of automatic reporting restrictions for sexual and other qualifying offences. Introduced by the Scottish Government, the proposals will be scrutinised by Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee over the coming months.
On behalf of the CCA, Seonaid Stevenson-McCabe and Dr Andrew Tickell submitted written evidence to MSPs, highlighting the strengths and potential weaknesses of different aspects of the proposals, including questions of when anonymity begins, when it ends, and who decides.
Drawing on our research into how 20 different common law systems currently approach anonymity provisions in these cases – we try to put the Scottish proposals in their international context, highlighting the lessons these proposals have learned from positive and negative experiences elsewhere. It is particularly positive to see strong protections in the Bill for the autonomy of complainers – giving them control over whether they wish to waive their anonymity and share their stories in public.
We also discuss some other important aspects of the proposals, including the positive inclusion of defences which recognise the prevalence and important of innocent social media publishing and dissemination of information, and more contentious issues, including how long reporting restrictions should last.
You can read our full written submission here.