The Scottish Conservative manifesto for the 2021 Holyrood elections made clear our commitment to retaining jury trials. Juries inspire a sense of fairness in trial outcomes, and command public confidence as a cornerstone of Scotland’s legal system.
This Scottish tradition must not be put under threat by the SNP in efforts to tackle Scotland’s court backlog. The court backlog can be tackled through the use of digital solutions and increasing capacity. For example, in the recent budget we called for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to be granted an extra £13.2 million to help them tackle the court backlog as well as to help improve court buildings so that they could cope with increased capacity. However, the SNP Government’s budget failed to provide this increase and the court backlog is set to take years to clear, leaving victims waiting for justice.
While it is true that reform is needed to better handle sexual assault and rape cases, we believe a better course of action would be to abolish the controversial not proven verdict, which is disproportionately used in these types of criminal trials. My party is proposing a Victims Law which aims to put victims of crime at the heart of Scotland’s justice system by abolishing the not proven verdict amongst other things. For too long, the SNP have prioritised the criminal over the victim of crime and this proposal would change that for good.