The not proven verdict and related reforms

Closed 11 Mar 2022

Opened 13 Dec 2021

Feedback updated 15 Sep 2022

We asked

The not proven verdict and related reforms consultation launched on 13 December 2021 and closed on 11 March 2022, fulfilling a key Programme for Government commitment.

As well as verdicts, due to the complex and interlinked nature of the jury system, the consultation also sought views on jury size, the majority required for conviction and the corroboration rule.

You said

The consultation attracted a response from a broad range of stakeholders. There were 200 responses to the consultation. Of these, 21 were from organisations and 179 from individuals.

Key findings of the independent analysis of responses included:

  • A majority of respondents (62%) supported changing to a two verdict system reasoning that it would be easier to understand, fairer and more straightforward.
  • A majority of respondents (50%) favoured verdicts of guilty and not guilty (compared to 41% who supported proven and not proven).
  • A majority of respondents (52%) from a wide range of stakeholders supported a qualified jury majority of some kind if there is a move to two verdicts.
  • A majority of respondents (58%) supported jury size remaining at 15 jurors.
  • A higher number of respondents supported keeping the corroboration rule than reforming or abolishing it.

The analysis of the responses received can be found here: The not proven verdict and related reforms: consultation analysis - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

We would like to thank all who took the time to participate in the consultation process and contribute their views on these matters, particularly those who have shared their personal experience of the justice system.

We did

An independent analysis of responses to the consultation was published on 12 July 2022 and is available at The not proven verdict and related reforms: consultation analysis - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) as are all non-confidential responses.

Informed by the strength of views offered in the consultation, the 2022-23 Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce legislation to abolish the not proven verdict as part of a package of reforms to the criminal justice system.

The reform to move to a two verdict system in Scotland of “guilty” and “not guilty” will be part of a wider Criminal Justice Reform Bill which will progress the ambition and priorities set out in the Vision for Justice in Scotland of delivering person-centred and trauma-informed practices, including taking greater action to improve the experience of women and children and to hear victims’ voices. 

The Bill will also deliver legislative reforms building on the recommendations of Lady Dorrian’s Review on Improving the Management of Sexual Offence Cases, including, amongst a range of proposals, protection of the anonymity of complainers of sexual crimes under Scots law.

Results updated 12 Jul 2022

An independent analysis of the responses to the consultation is available at The not proven verdict and related reforms: Consultation Analysis - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

This consultation seeks views on the three verdict system in Scottish criminal trials and, if the not proven verdict were to be abolished, whether any accompanying reforms would be necessary to other aspects of the Scottish criminal justice system including jury size, majority required for verdict and the corroboration rule.

The views gathered will inform what, if any, reforms will be taken forward.

Read the consultation paper 

Why your views matter

After publication of the Scottish Jury Research in October 2019, the Scottish Government held engagement events involving stakeholders across the country from a range of sectors to hear their views on the implications of the jury research findings, if these reflected their own experiences of the criminal justice system and whether they were in favour of potential criminal justice reforms.

The discussions highlighted the complexity of the issues and the lack of agreement about next steps. This consultation will provide an opportunity for those interested to set out their detailed views on these matters and for the views of a wider range of people to be considered, as well as allowing us to understand the considered view of various key organisations.

Ministers recognise the strong case that can be made for the abolition of the not proven verdict but also understand that there are many who have principled and informed objections to the abolition of the not proven verdict or highlight the complex impact that moving to two verdicts could have on the wider Scottish criminal justice system. It is hoped the consultation will capture the views of a broad range of stakeholders including legal professionals, the third sector and those with lived experience of the system to inform any potential next steps for the three verdict system and any associated reforms that may be required.

What happens next

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other relevant evidence. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so and an analysis report will also be made available. A final report will also be published to report on what decisions have been made taking account of the views expressed in the consultation.

Interests

  • Law and Order