Report published on changes needed to the Scottish Justice sector

12 January, 2022

The Scottish Parliament’s Criminal Justice Committee has detailed the changes it wants to see made to the Scottish Justice System in a report published this week.

The report includes a number recommendations for the following:

·       Victims’ rights and support

·       Violence against woman and girls

·       The impact of Covid-19 on the sector

·       Courts

The report also recommends improvements to the Victim Notification Scheme to avoid re-traumatisation, providing victims of sexual offences with a single point of contact and changing court buildings to ensure they are less traumaitising for victims and witnesses.

The full report can be accessed by clicking here.

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, comments: “Today’s Criminal Justice Committee report may be a case of too little, too late when it comes to supporting victims, witnesses and families in the justice system. The emphasis of the report and its recommendations appears to be on reducing offending and prison populations. We think there is a missed opportunity for more radical reform that puts victims at the centre.

“Whilst we welcome the acknowledgement that the Victim Notification Scheme is not fit for purposes, this is something that has been known for years. We have heard numerous accounts of people who have been triggered and traumatised through this scheme. Priority therefore must be given to updating this archaic system at a pace, giving choice and control back to victims in terms of how they receive information about the whereabouts of a perpetrator.

“From our experience supporting people in the aftermath of crime for over 35-years, we know how appearing in court can, for some, be more traumatic than the crime itself. This is unacceptable. The innovations we have seen through the pandemic have included providing evidence remotely and evidence on commission. Feedback from victims is that they are more comfortable giving evidence this way, and it avoids the risk of contact with the accused in court. We therefore welcome the recommendation that giving evidence this way is available to victims of sexual offences.

“The report gives recognition to the detrimental impact that delays to trials can have on victims. Overall, however, we believe that much more can be done to prevent this. Only this way are we avoiding doing more harm than good to people who have come through crime.”