Scotland’s first purpose-built Justice Centre has opened in Inverness
The Inverness Justice Centre is a landmark facility, the first to bring together integrated justice services under one roof to support victims, witnesses, litigants and other users.
The Justice Centre has incorporated a victim and witness-centred approach to the building layout, with separate and distinct areas for jurors and witnesses which decreasing contact between them. It has incorporated technology to remove the need for children to appear in person at court and to support the development of digital case management for summary crime in the future.
Alongside the Inverness Sheriff Court, Justice of the Peace Court, Police Scotland, social work and NHS, the building will host voluntary and public sector organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Families Outside, Scottish Women’s Aid, and Victim Support Scotland.
With specially designed facilities for children and vulnerable witnesses, as well as the close proximity of support services, we are hopeful that the Justice Centre will provide a more holistic service for people affected by crime.
Kate Wallace, CEO of Victim Support Scotland, comments:
“The new Justice Centre in Inverness presents Scotland with a golden opportunity to get things right for victims and witnesses of crime.
“For far too long, we have heard numerous accounts of where things have gone wrong with victims attending court, adding to their trauma in the aftermath of a crime. The new purpose-built facility is a first for Scotland, and therefore we have the chance of delivering justice services in new and innovative ways.
“We are delighted that our services will be in the same building as our partner organisations in the justice and third sectors, as well as health and social security. By providing support services to victims and witnesses under one roof, we are creating a genuine multi-agency approach to justice.
“It is important that vulnerable witnesses, including children and young people, have the right level of support available to them. It is great to see that the new facility will incorporate digital technology that will allow victims to give evidence in less intimidating ways.
“As a charity, Victim Support Scotland has been providing services to victims across Scotland for the last 35 years in the courts and in the community. We know how complicated and confusing the criminal justice system can be for victims, and I look forward to seeing how Inverness could lead the way in making sure that we put victims first.”
The immediate focus of the new Justice Centre will be for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) and courts to prioritise critical business during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Courts have already ceased jury trials, adjourned all but essential criminal and civil hearings to reduce the need for physical attendance at court. SCTS advises that people should stay away from the building unless they must attend for court proceedings.