RAPISTS in Scotland are serving sentences as small as four years or even less, new figures show.
The maximum punishment for the crime is life but figures from the Scottish Prison Service reveal that of the 28 rapists released last year, five had been sentenced to four years or less.
And the average prison term for rapists released last year was just over seven and a half years in Scotland compared to eight years in the UK.
Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, slammed the findings. She said:
“It’s hard to get a conviction and rape in this country is under-reported.
“It’s the victims who suffer because of these light sentences. “
The number of rapists in Scotland serving less than five years could be even higher than the figures suggest.
This is because the Scottish Prison Service only record how long rapists are sentenced for rather than the actual time they serve.
According to the Parole Board of Scotland, those serving less than four years are automatically released halfway through their sentence.
For rapists that would be on license.
And prisoners jailed for four years or more are automatically referred to the Parole Board for Scotland halfway through their sentence.
Thirteen rapists released last year had been sentenced to between five and eight years in jail.
This means they could have applied for, and possibly been released after spending four years or less behind bars.
John Lamont MSP, the Conservative Justice spokesman, said:
“These stats make clear that those who are convicted of these terrible crimes are serving shorter sentences than in the rest of the UK.
“I think people will be shocked that some rapists are allowed to walk free after spending four years or less in jail. “
A Scottish Government spokesman said:
“Last year we brought in the Sexual Offences Act, which brought greater clarity to the prosecution of sexual crimes, but more can be done to improve the conviction rate.
“Individual sentencing decisions are a matter for judges and sheriffs based on the evidence before them – not ministers – and rape can get life imprisonment. “
Scotland has one of the lowest conviction rates for rape in the world.
Latest official figures from the Scottish Government saw them drop to a 25-year low.
Just 25 cases were proven out of the 821 rapes reported in 2008-09, the lowest since 1984.
And just 83 people were charged with rape and only 32 per cent of them were convicted of rape or a similar charge.