Scrapping of not proven verdict is long overdue

The decision to scrap the not-proven verdict is a welcome and long overdue change.

The decision to scrap not proven verdicts in Scottish Courts is a welcome and long overdue change, say the Scottish Greens. The reform is part of the Scottish Government’s criminal justice bill.

Unlike most of the world's legal systems, Scotland has three possible verdicts in criminal cases - guilty, not guilty and not proven – but in practice the ‘not proven’ outcome is an acquittal, with the same outcome, especially from the point of view of victims, survivors or complainants, as ‘not guilty.’

The Scottish Greens justice spokesperson, Maggie Chapman MSP, said:

“This is a welcome and long overdue change. Having a third option as a possible verdict in criminal trials can be confusing for juries and is considered by many to be unfair on both complainers and the accused.

“It is a damaging anomaly that is used disproportionately in sexual violence cases. Survivors of such cases deserve closure, support and unambiguous justice. 

“There is also a harmful stigma associated with the not proven verdict. Anyone who has been cleared of a crime would want to hear the words ‘not guilty’ rather than ‘not proven’.

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government’s Bill addresses the issues with not proven that victim and survivor support organisations, and the people they support, have been campaigning on for years.”