Radical plans for a shake-up of the justice system have been welcomed by local MSP Tom Arthur.

The SNP politician, whose Renfrewshire South constituency stretches from Johnstone to Barrhead, said the proposals would provide further support to victims and witnesses of crime.

He spoke out after it was revealed that Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was published earlier this week, will scrap Scotland's not proven verdict.

It will also change the size of criminal juries from 15 to 12 and aims to address a number of issues around serious sexual offences, creating a new specialist sexual offences court.

Mr Arthur said: "The Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill has been informed by the work of several campaigns and reviews, and will ensure that fairness and sensitivity to the experiences of victims and witnesses, underpins our Scottish justice system."

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Under the new proposals, ministers will have the power to carry out a pilot of rape trials being conducted by a single judge without a jury.

For jury trials, the majority needed for a guilty verdict will be at least two-thirds.

Last year, Nicola Sturgeon committed to abolishing the third verdict in the Scottish legal system.

Discussions around Scotland's third verdict, which has the effect of acquitting the accused, have been going on for years.

The verdict is unique to Scots law and there is no equivalent in other jurisdictions.

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Justice Secretary Angela Constance said: "This Bill will put victims and witnesses at the heart of the justice system.

"It is testament to the efforts of many campaigners who have worked to ensure that the processes of justice better serve victims, witnesses and vulnerable parties.

"This landmark legislation is among the most significant since devolution and will ensure fairness is cemented into the bedrock of Scotland's modern-day justice system.

"Building on the experiences of survivors, victims and their families, these key reforms will make justice services more sensitive to the trauma it can cause.

"This government has been clear we must take action to improve the experience of those who suffer sexual abuse.

"The majority are women, who must be supported to have trust and confidence that the processes of justice will serve their needs, allow them to give their best evidence and support them in their recovery."