Improving experiences of justice for victim-survivors of rape and sexual assault

Published: 2 June 2021

One in 10 women and one in 50 men in Scotland has experienced rape. However, there are enduring concerns about the criminal justice response. UofG research has informed the development of a new national advocacy model to support victim-survivors throughout the criminal justice process.

Hand reaching for help

The research

Support to Report was the first rape advocacy initiative in Scotland. Based in Glasgow, it was launched in December 2013, with the aim of advocating for, and supporting the needs of, male and female victim-survivors reporting to the police.

A UofG-led evaluation of the initiative found that it improved the experiences of victim-survivors and their ability to engage with the criminal justice process, but needed substantial revision.

The research recommended providing continuity of support throughout the criminal justice process (not just at the point of police reporting); enhancing public promotion of the service, and ensuring that advocacy support was victim-survivor led.

These recommendations among others were taken up as the basis for the development of a new national advocacy model.

The impact

The Scottish Government-funded National Advocacy Project was launched, initially as a two-year initiative, in February 2016.

A follow-up evaluation of the National Advocacy Project led by Professor Michele Burman, Dr Oona Brooks-Hay and Dr Lisa Bradley then informed the development of the service beyond the initial two-year funding period.

In 2018, enhanced government funding of £1.7m was announced over a further two years.

This enabled an increase in the number of advocacy workers and additional resources were provided to high-demand areas.

Since 2016, the National Advocacy Project has supported thousands of victim-survivors, who have described the initiative as “invaluable” and “life-changing”.

The service has had a huge impact not only on victim-survivor wellbeing, but on their ability to sustain engagement with the criminal justice process.

The success of the National Advocacy Project in Scotland is now providing the basis for a similar model in Northern Ireland.

Find out more about:

First published: 2 June 2021