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10 August 2018, 10:41
Scotland's prosecutors and courts are to get extra government funding to help deal with an increase in reported sexual offences.
The £1.1 million boost is aimed at reducing the time each case takes to progress through the justice system.
Scotland has seen an increase in reports of sexual crimes since 2011, many of them relating to historical offences.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (Copfs) and the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) will also use the cash to improve information provided to complainants during the prosecution process.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "Many victims of sexual offences are understandably anxious about the criminal justice process and there is a risk that, without appropriate support and reassurance, the prosecution process can compound their trauma.
"That is why we are providing this extra funding to help ensure cases reach court as quickly as possible and to improve communication with victims.
"Despite the recent increase in sexual offence reports, we know that such crimes continue to be under-reported. This additional funding is just one of the actions we have put in place to help give victims confidence to report crimes by ensuring they are offered support at each step of the process."
Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: "The additional funding which the Justice Secretary has announced responds to the current and projected growth in reports of sexual crime, and the changing profile and complexity of these cases.
"It will be directed to reducing the time before court proceedings commence, and to improving the provision of information to complainers."
"This reflects the Crown's commitment to improving the experience of victims of sexual crime in the criminal justice system; and to the effective and rigorous prosecution of sexual offences."
Rape and attempted rape accounted for 17% of sexual crimes in 2016-17. There were 1,878 recorded incidents of rape - up 4% from 2015-16.