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Impact of Aspects of the Law of Evidence in Sexual Offence Trials: An Evaluation Study

DescriptionThis presents the findings from an evaluation of changes to the law of evidence in sex offence trials, restricting the use of evidence and questioning concerning complainers' sexual history and character.
ISBN978 07559 67551
Official Print Publication DateSeptember 2007
Website Publication DateSeptember 12, 2007


Michele Burman, Lynn Jamieson, Jan Nicholson and Oona Brooks

Scottish Government Social Research

ISBN 978 0 7559 6755 1

This document is also available in pdf format (864k)



Executive Summary
Sexual Offences (Criminal Procedure) (Scotland) Act 2002
The Research
The Findings

Chapter One: "Rape Shield" Legislation in Scotland
The Scope of the Report
The Legislative Background
"Rape Shield" Legislation in Scotland
The Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2002
The Wider Context of Legal and Procedural Reform
Chapter Summary

Chapter Two: Research Aims and Methodology
Aims and Objectives
Research Design And Data Collection

Chapter Three: High Court Cases Involving Sexual Charges
Findings From Case Mapping
Chapter Summary

Chapter Four: Making s.275 Applications to Introduce Otherwise Prohibited Evidence or Questioning
Applying The Provisions
Evidence or questioning sought to be admitted or elicited
Chapter Summary

Chapter Five: Deciding s.275 Applications
The Decision-Making Process
Challenging Applications
Deciding s.275 applications: the view of the court
The timing of s.275 applications
Weighing Relevance and Prejudice
Chapter Summary

Chapter Six: s.275 Applications and Previous Convictions of the Accused
No disclosure
Chapter Summary

Chapter Seven: The Use of Sexual History and Character Evidence in the Trial
Introducing sexual history of character evidence allowed through s.275 applications
Objections and interventions
Straying beyond the parameters of questioning set by the court
Chapter Summary

Chapter Eight: Cases without s.275 Applications
Why applications are and are not made
Chapter Summary

Chapter Nine: Complainers' Experiences Of The Court Process
In the Witness Box
Chapter Summary

Chapter Ten: Conclusion
Increase in sexual history and character evidence
Character Evidence
A Sharper Focus on Relevance?
Unintended Consequences
Informing the complainer


Appendix One: Pro Forma for Transcribed and Attended Trials

Appendix Two: Transcribed Trials

Appendix Three: Attended Trials

Appendix Four: Contents of s.275 Applications

Appendix Five: Application to Introduce Sexual Character

The views expressed in this report are those of the researcher and
do not necessarily represent those of the Department or Scottish Ministers.

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