Victim Support Scotland welcomes strengthening of rights with Victims’ Rights Directive

14 July, 2023

A revised EU Victims’ Rights Directive designed to strengthen EU rights, protection and support for victims was published on Tuesday 11 July 2023.

Victim Support Scotland (VSS), as one 61 signatories and one of the founding members of Victim Support Europe, welcomes the European Commission’s publication of amendments to the Directive and calls for further, sustained and affirmative action to fully protect and support victims of crime.

It calls for improvements to how:

  • Victims receive information
  • We communicate with victims
  • Criminal proceedings can work better for victims

VSS and signatories agree on how victims want to be supported following a crime – with dignity and respect, for their voice to be heard, and for justice to be done.  They also agree on the failure of national and European laws to translate into real change for victims.  Victims often tell us that their experience of the criminal justice system is a traumatising as the crime itself – and this need to change.

Although Scotland is no longer part of the EU, being part of a collective view across Europe, allows for legal, policy and legislative comparisons across member states, the UK and Scotland, all of which have a bearing on victims’ rights.

The Victims’ Code for Scotland – derived from the previous EU Victims’ Directive – sets out the rights of victims in one place across the following agencies:

  • Police Scotland
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
  • Scottish Prison Service
  • Parole Board for Scotland
  • The Scottish Government

Currently, the Scottish Parliament is progressing three separate and significant Bills affecting victims and witnesses.  As this revised directive is launched, it is important to raise concerns and highlight issues affecting victims’ rights.

  • Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Bill
  • Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill
  • Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill

Victim Support Scotland vows to continue to lead change by working with victims, agencies and partners, MSPs and the Scottish Government to ensure the rights of victims all across Scotland are upheld and that they receive the support they need.