Section 18: The Law

Victims of Sexual Offences


All victims of rape and other sex crimes, including children, are automatically guaranteed anonymity for life from the moment they make a complaint that they are the victim of a sex crime.  In Scotland, the law is different but the practice of respecting anonymity is the same.

These restrictions only apply to identifying the person as being the victim of an alleged sexual offence.  They do not prevent the identification of the person in other contexts.

Judges may, on occasion, lift the restrictions at the request of the defence.  They can do this to get witnesses to come forward and to ensure a fair trial, or to allow the reasonable reporting of a case of public interest.

If a victim were identified in another, unrelated, criminal case, then the reporting of that case would not be restricted.

Victims can be identified if they agree to it.  The consent should be in writing and must not be the result of any pressure.

We should be aware of the risk of 'jigsaw identification'.

(See Section 6 Fairness, Contributors and Consent: 6.4.10 - 6.4.12 and Section 8 Reporting Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour: 8.4.34 - 8.4.39)