Under the current legal system, evidence is required from at least two different and independent sources of evidence in support of each crucial fact before a defendant can be convicted of a crime. The Scottish Government wants to abolish this requirement.
I have written here before regarding the serious concerns that were raised by many in the legal establishment and politicians when the Scottish Government brought forward their bill to abolish corroboration without also proposing safeguards to insure that our justice system is a fair one.
As a result of these widespread concerns Kenny MacAskill, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, was forced to establish a review to analyse what additional safeguards would be required were corroboration to be abolished.
That Review, established in February 2014 and led by Lord Bonomy, has now made suggestions as to what safeguards could be put in place. These could involve changes to guidelines for police evidence gathering, confession evidence, jury size and verdicts. And now the Review is asking the public for their views, to help inform its thinking ahead of its final report to the Scottish Government, which is due next April.
It is incredibly important that we have the right checks and balances in place before consideration of a removal of corroboration is decided.
We rely on our justice system in many different ways, and interact with it for a variety of different reasons. And we need to have faith in the integrity of that system.
That is why this review is so important – and why the expert group needs to hear from people across South Scotland. The thoughts, experiences and opinions that you share can only help the process, and help ensure that the recommendations made in April are the right ones.
The consultation period will run from 14 October to 28 November 2014. During the consultation period, the Review will also be holding public meetings in Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Hamilton.
For more information on the review, the public meetings, and details on how to respond to the consultation click here.