Statement on the launch of the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill

27 April, 2023

Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland said:

“We welcome the introduction of the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill.  The proposals in the Bill are far reaching and have been driven by years of campaigning by people affected by crime.

“The Not Proven verdict is unique to the Scottish justice system, leaving many victims, witnesses and their families without the conclusive answer to move forward with their lives, and we welcome plans to remove this verdict.

“People affected by crime have also told us that the criminal justice system is just as, if not more traumatising than the crime itself. We fully support the implementation of trauma-informed practices, that will help to build trust, offer choice, and empower people to take control of their own situation.

“Finally, we do not believe the current system of trial by jury is suitable for the prosecution of serious sexual offences. The Mock Jury research highlighted it is difficult for a jury to understand complex legal arguments and matters of law. We would support the recommendation of a pilot for single judge-led trials, and have the confidence that the knowledge and experience of the judiciary will lead to a more just outcome for survivors of sexual offences.

“We look forward representing the views of people affected by crime in Scotland and will work closely with the Scottish Government as this Bill progresses through Parliament.”