There has been increased attention paid to sexual violence by both the UK and Scottish Government, amidst a context in which the response of the criminal justice system in dealing with rape and serious sexual assault, and its impact upon those reporting these offences, has been subject to scrutiny. Enduring concerns such as ‘secondary victimisation’ (Kelly et al., 2005; Burman, 2009), high numbers of cases which do not reach court (Kelly et al., 2005), a ‘culture of scepticism’ leading to an over-estimation of the scale of false allegations (see Kelly et al., 2005), and a lack of coordinated service provision to victims (Feist et al., 2007; Robinson, 2009) reveal a challenging landscape for the pursuit of safe and effective routes to justice for victim-survivors . Recognition of these issues has led to government commitment to make support and health services more accessible (see: Home Office, 2007, 2011; Scottish Government, 2009, 2016). In Scotland, a key part of this commitment has centred on the delivery of advocacy support to victim-survivors engaging with, or considering engaging with, the criminal justice system (Brooks and Burman, 2016; Blake Stevenson, 2017).
The National Advocacy Project (NAP), funded by the Scottish Government, was launched by Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) in February 2016. The NAP provides dedicated advocacy support from RCS trained Advocacy Workers (AWs) to victim-survivors of rape and serious sexual crime. Funding for the NAP, secured until March 2018, provides for 15 local advocacy projects with one FTE Advocacy Worker each, based in local Rape Crisis Centres across Scotland (with the exception of West Lothian where the NAP is housed within the local authority-run Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Team). The NAP is coordinated by Rape Crisis Scotland and overseen by a National Advisory Group comprising representatives from RCS, Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
The NAP is intended to achieve: i) an improvement in the support available to survivors of rape and serious sexual assault; ii) an improvement in the experience of the criminal justice process for survivors; and iii) the development of a better understanding of survivors’ motivations to proceed or not with the criminal justice process.
If you wish to read the final report it is available to download here.