Keith Brown, Scotland's Justice Secretary, has said he will consider radical legal reforms if they improve conviction rates on sex crimes.

Mr Brown said proposals for specialist sex crime courts and the abolition of the not proven verdict would need to go out to consultation. But he said major changes could be brought in if consensus is reached.

Earlier this year, a review group led by Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian suggested there should be specialist courts to deal with serious sex crimes. The group also said consideration should be given to holding trials with a single judge instead of a jury.

Mr Brown said: "If you were to change the law on corroboration, if you were to change the law on jury sizes, none of those things can be achieved without taking forward primary legislation.

"That involves a lot of consultation, talking with partners, talking in the parliament as well. It needs to be a long and profound process to make sure we get it right."

Scottish Government figures show that from 2019 to 2020 there were 2,343 rapes or attempted rapes reported. Of the 300 prosecutions that followed, just 130 resulted in guilty verdicts.

Only 43% of rape and attempted rape trials result in a conviction, compared to an overall conviction rate of 88%

Mr Brown said: "The very low conviction rates suggest we'll have to do something quite different in order to improve that, if we're to serve the victims sufficiently well.

"We should not shrink away, if that's what's required, from possible radical action."

In a response, Law Society of Scotland President, Ken Dalling said the Society would support change that brought meaningful improvement for complainers and witnesses, providing the rights of the accused were preserved.

"It will be essential to maintain fundamental principles in any plans to reform the criminal justice system – to recognise the presumption of innocence, maintain the rights of all those involved, and minimise the risk of a miscarriage of justice", he commented. "In our view juries can be trusted to return the correct outcome based on the evidence presented, and great care should be taken in changing a system on the basis that juries have been getting things wrong."

He added: "We need to be sure that any reforms would work in practice and not adversely impact on a fair and transparent system that upholds the rule of law and operates in the interests of justice."