Statement on the review of the Victim Notification Scheme

12 May, 2023

Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said:

“As welcome as this extensive report and recommendations arising from the independent review of the Victim Notification Scheme (VNS) are, this serves to highlight that this is an outdated system that requires to be overhauled, victim-centred and trauma-informed and that urgent and affirmative action is needed.

“Too many victims of crime and their families experience a flawed, confusing and complex system that adds to a significantly traumatic time in their lives.  Victims tell us about invitations to join the scheme coming at a time when they are in the midst of trauma and unable to process the information given, unexpected communications with no prior notice, and often with formal legal language that can lead to further retraumatisation.

“Importantly, the review heard directly from the experiences of people affected by crime, as well as drawing on evidence from stakeholders in the Scottish justice system and examining international best practice. The report highlights many of the issues with the existing scheme and gives significant recommendations for improvement. Even with the scheme in its current form, we know this has a significant and negative affect on victims’ wellbeing and mental health, at times leading to suicidal thoughts and this needs to be urgently addressed.

“These recommendations include the creation of a new, dedicated team of trauma-informed professionals to liaise directly with victims of crime and their families, a change in eligibility criteria and an automatic referral system putting choice back in the hands of people affected by crime.

“We look forward to seeing the Scottish Government’s response to this independent review, and working productively and collaboratively with justice system partners to ensure these recommendations are implemented.”