Under consideration PE1876: Accurately record the sex of people charged or convicted of rape or attempted rape

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to require Police Scotland, the Crown Office and the Scottish Court Service to accurately record the sex of people charged or convicted of rape or attempted rape.

Previous action taken

We have met the Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician to argue for the need to collect accurate data on sex in various contexts, including in cases of rape and attempted rape.

Draft guidance subsequently issued by the Chief Statistician rejected this in all but exceptional circumstances, which did not include the recording of these cases.

Background information

Police Scotland recently stated that a person directly charged with rape or attempted rape could be recorded as female. The Scottish Government has stated that ‘this is a matter for Police Scotland’.

Rape is defined in law as involving penetration by a penis without consent and is therefore, by definition, the act of a male body (cases involving a surgically constructed penis appear to be unknown to date).

Women may be charged with rape as accessories, but this is extremely rare.
Only a very small proportion of offenders directly charged with rape or attempted rape would therefore need to be recorded as female to have a substantial and misleading effect on the understanding of female offending. The same issue appears to arise for information collected in other parts of the criminal justice system.

Recording sex accurately in these cases matters for data accuracy and trust in official statistics, public policy, media reporting, research, and for trust in public bodies.

  • Created by Lucy Hunter Blackburn, Lisa Mackenzie, Kath Murray
  • Considered from 5 July 2021
  • Petitions can collect signatures until the petition has been closed

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