TWO of Scotland's most eminent experts on the issue of rape have warned that ministerial plans to abolish corroboration will not help improve the conviction rate.

Their warnings come a day after it was revealed reported rapes are now more common than robberies in Scotland, with almost 1000 attacks recorded since April alone.

The number of reported rapes increased by 35% to 905 between April and September, compared to the same period last year. The number of robberies fell 25% to 727 in that time.

Writing in The Herald today, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill defends the proposed abolition of corroboration.

However, Fiona Raitt, professor of evidence and social justice at Dundee University, and Michele Burman, professor of criminology at Glasgow University, both say Scottish Government plans to get rid of corroboration will not lead to a higher conviction rate.

About 10% of reported rapes reach court. Of those, roughly one-third lead to convictions, but of the total number of reports to police just 3% result in convictions.

The Criminal Justice Bill, which includes the plans, is going through Holyrood's Justice Committee.

Professor Raitt said: "I don't think getting rid of corroboration will make a difference. Prosecutors will still look for supporting evidence.

"With the removal of corroboration, we could see an increase in the number of women coming forward but really we need to address what is happening in juries and look at independent legal representation for victims.

"In England and Wales they have done research into juries on these cases. They have methods within judicial direction for making sure there are not inappropriate views taking hold."

However, while professor Burman said he "did not think it would make a difference in relation rape convictions," he added: "I think corroboration is an anachronism and Lord Carloway is right to call for its removal."

Police believe some of the increase in reported rapes can be attributed to greater confidence among victims and the publicity around the Jimmy Savile abuse cases.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We look forward to discussing this in more detail with the relevant victim support organisations in due course."