A “ground-breaking” study into how juries come to decisions – including their use of the not proven verdict – is to be carried out in Scotland.
The research, announced by ministers, is described as the first of its kind in Scotland and will take place over the next two years.
The study, which will see members of the public sit on ‘mock juries’, will examine the size of juries and their decision-making processes.
It will also consider Scots law’s unusual three-verdict system. In Scotland, unlike many of the world’s legal systems, jurors have three possible verdicts to choose from in criminal cases – guilty, not guilty and not proven.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced that the team will be headed by market research company Ipsos Mori, working with Professors James Chalmers and Fiona Leverick of the University of Glasgow and Professor Vanessa Munro from Warwick University.
Lorraine Murray, deputy managing director of Ipsos Mori Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be undertaking this important and ground-breaking research – the first of its kind in Scotland.
“With the help of several hundreds of members of the public who will sit on ‘mock juries’, we will be able to provide unique insights into how Scottish juries reach their decisions.”
Professor Chalmers said: “This study will help us understand just what difference the special features of the Scottish jury system make in practice.”
Mr Matheson said: “This important research is a direct result of Lord Bonomy’s post-corroboration safeguards review in which he recommended that research should be carried out to ensure that any changes to our jury system are made only on a fully informed basis, including the impact having a three verdict system has on decision making.
“The Ipsos Mori team will work in collaboration with three respected academics and will use case simulations rather than real jurors. Their findings will help inform any future decisions that may be taken in relation to potential reforms of our criminal justice system.”