SURVIVORS of rape and serious sexual assault cases in Scotland will have access to transcripts from their court cases free of charge through a pilot scheme in a UK first. 

From Friday, those whose cases are heard in the High Court will be eligible to apply for transcripts of what was said.

Campaigners including survivor Ellie Wilson have welcomed the move, saying “accessing justice should never have a price tag”.

Victims in Scotland will be the first in the UK to have access to the free transcripts. 

Cases that began on or after December 31 2006 are eligible, whether verdicts of guilty, not guilty or not proven are returned.

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Justice Secretary Angela Constance said: “We want to support victims and ensure we have a trauma-informed justice system.

"We have heard from victims of serious sexual assaults that the whole court process can be very traumatic and it can be difficult to take in what is said in court at the time.

“Being able to obtain transcripts, where victims can go over exactly what was said in court in their own time, can help their recovery.

“Victims have said currently the costs of paying for transcripts can be prohibitive so our pilot will provide £100,000 funding for court transcripts in these High Court cases.

The National: Angela Constance

“We will also continue to work with the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service to see how the application of new technology might help minimise the cost of producing transcripts for all those who wish to access them.

“The pilot, along with the proposed reforms in the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill are aimed at improving sexual offence victims’ experience of the justice system so they can have confidence in it.”

The year-long pilot will begin on March 1.

Wilson, a justice reform campaigner, has previously spoken publicly about the difficulty of obtaining the transcript of her own case.

She said: “The introduction of the pilot is extremely welcome, and will help to ensure transparency in the justice process and accountability within the legal profession. Survivors should not be priced out of accessing vital data that is relevant to their recovery journey.


“Scotland has the opportunity to lead the way in ensuring justice is open, fair, and accountable. This will make a real difference to survivors and take away an unnecessary and traumatic hurdle in their justice journey.

“I look forward to remaining in dialogue with the Scottish Government to ensure the pilot becomes permanent.”

Rape Crisis Scotland chief executive Sandy Brindley said for too long, survivors had to pay prices that were out of the reach of many to access transcripts.

She said: “Accessing justice should never have a price tag. This pilot means that more survivors will be able to see, in black and white, exactly what happened at the trial of their case, something many survivors are currently left without after their case has concluded.

“This announcement is testament to the tireless campaigning on this issue from survivors and our thanks go to them.”

A Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service spokesperson said: “The SCTS will facilitate the Scottish Government-led pilot which will enable complainers in High Court cases involving charges of rape and/or sexual assault to apply for free access to trial transcripts.

“Complainers will be able to apply for funding using the application form which will be available on our website when the pilot begins on Friday March 1.”