Police to warn sex crime suspects

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Men suspected of sex crimes in Scotland could be issued with police warnings in cases where there is not enough evidence to prosecute them in court.

Police Scotland said sexual predators could be frightened into changing their behaviour if they think the authorities are on to them.

Under a new scheme - called Persons of Interest - suspects would be approached by police and given warning letters.

The individual's family or employers would not be told.

The warning scheme is to be trialled in one of Scotland's 14 police divisions but a decision has still to be taken on which one and when it will start.

'Not acceptable'

The head of Scotland's new National Rape Task Force, Det Supt Louise Raphael, said the challenging nature of sex crimes meant it was not always possible to get the evidence required to prosecute men suspected of perpetrating them.

It usually resulted in no action being taken at all but Ms Raphael said that was not acceptable.

Ms Raphael said she was eager to see more victims come forward and build up the real picture of the number of sex crimes.

She said police could not encourage people to come forward without putting a prevention strategy in place.

The Persons of Interest scheme is designed to raise understanding among men of the issue of consent.

Ms Raphael said some men might think it was acceptable to take advantage of women who are drunk or who have been separated from their friends on a night out.

This sort of predatory behaviour could be targeted by the new scheme.

One leading QC expressed doubt that the tactic would be as frightening as formally interviewing a suspect under caution.

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