The Crown Office is coming under pressure to release their "confidential" guidance for issuing recorded police warnings (RPWs).

Police Scotland's use of cautions has come under scrutiny in recent days following the assault of a woman at a rally in Aberdeen. 

The 26-year-old man responsible was given an RPW, sparking anger from campaigners about the leniency of the punishment.

At the time, Police Scotland defended the decision, telling The Herald they were acting ”in line with the Lord Advocate’s guidelines.”

Those guidelines are not public.

READ MORE: Police Scotland in human rights row over Women Won't Wheesht assault

Following our story, Roddy Dunlop KC, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, tweeted that he could not "believe there are guidelines that say it’s ok to punch a woman, or it’s ok if the assailant is demonstrating."

The policy analysis collective Murray Blackburn Mackenzie has now written to Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain about the instructions used for recorded police warnings.

They have also warned that unless the guidelines are reviewed and amended they could ultimately infringe on the right to free expression and freedom of assembly.

The assault happened at a rally organised by Women Won’t Wheesht, a group critical of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament last December which aims to simplify the process for a trans person to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Crucially, the legislation, which has been blocked by the UK Government, removes the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Women Won’t Wheesht are one of a number of groups opposed to this so-called self-ID, expressing concerns that could it have implications for women’s rights and single sex spaces.

However, supporters of the legislation have long argued that it is trans rights that are under threat and that the current system for obtaining a GRC is often demeaning, intrusive and traumatic.

After news of the rally became public, a counter-protest was organised by activists in the city.

When members of Women Won’t Wheesht turned up at the bandstand in the park at noon to set up, protesters were already there.

READ MORE: Labour rules out self-id in U-turn on gender recognition reform

Ms Marshall said one of the protesters then ran over and tried to take one of the group’s banners. When she and one of her fellow activists tried to take it back, she says the man swung around and hit her on the arm and head.

Police were then called, with the force saying they were “made aware of an assault of a 54-year-old woman during the event” and that “an individual, aged 26, has received a recorded police warning in connection with the incident.”

In their letter to the Lord Advocate, Murray Blackburn Mackenzie ask if she agrees that “the action, in this case, was in line with guidelines issued on your behalf.”

They also refer to Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights which protects freedom of expression and Article 11 which includes protection for freedom of peaceful assembly.

The letter continues: “We would also urge you to meet women in Scotland who have been involved in organising public meetings, who will be able to explain the circumstances in which those meetings commonly take place and the impact of that on women's participation, particularly women with additional vulnerabilities due, for example, to past experience of male violence or physical conditions, such as osteoporosis.

“We hope you will agree that it is critical in a democratic society that there is trust in the police and prosecutors to ensure that people are safely able to exercise their rights under Article 10 and 11 of the ECHR and look forward to your response.”

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service confirmed that the guidelines issued to police on their operation of the recorded police warning scheme were "confidential".

A spokesperson said: “Correspondence on this from Murray Blackburn Mackenzie has been received by COPFS. This will be responded to in due course."