Nearly 50 accused rapists diverted from prosecution in last five years
Almost 50 individuals accused of rape have avoided prosecution in the last five years.
Most of them were under the age of 18 at the time of offending and were instead diverted to social work or other agencies.
The process, known as ‘diversion from prosecution’, is an option for prosecutors who believe avoiding entry into the criminal justice system is the most appropriate way to deal with the cause of offending.
A parliamentary question submitted by Scottish Tory justice spokesperson Russell Findlay revealed 16 people were diverted from prosecution following allegations of rape in 2022-23, and 14 people apiece in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
In 2019-20, only three individuals were diverted from prosecution and in 2018-19 the number was one.
Of the 48 total cases, 38 of them relate to people under 18 and four involved adults.
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, who heads up the Crown Office, said: “Diversion is a process by which prosecutors are able to refer a case to social work or other identified agency as a means of addressing the underlying causes of offending when this is deemed the most appropriate course of action.
“Such intervention can be particularly effective in cases of children’s offending, changing the direction of young lives for the better and is consistent with the obligations on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).”
Bain last month ordered a review into the use of diversion from prosecution in relation to more serious crimes such as rape, following concerns about the impact on victims.
Revised guidance on diversion for sexual offences will be published as a result.
The Scottish Tories said the practice allowed accused rapists to “dodge justice”.
Findlay said: “In the vast majority of these cases, the victims are women and girls who are fully entitled to proper justice.
“No alleged rapist should be allowed to walk away with a slap on the wrist and the Lord Advocate’s recently announced review of this practice must be speedy, thorough and transparent.”