Victims are to have increased involvement in improving the parole process

22 November, 2019

The results of the recent Transforming Parole in Scotland consultation have revealed a call for greater victim involvement in the parole process. There is also support for victims’ safety and welfare to be factored into decision-making on parole cases and the report recommends that victims’ attendance at parole hearings is explored.

This is welcome news as we know victims and their families often feel left out of the parole decisions which can fully affect their lives, from anxiety about meeting the perpetrator on parole in their neighbourhood to feeling that justice has been fully served.

Other actions in the Transforming Parole in Scotland consultation analysis report include:

• Investigating greater use of electronic tagging of prisoners released on parole.
• Considering how new GPS monitoring capabilities can ensure compliance with licence conditions, such as exclusion zones for the protection of victims.
• Ensuring that licence conditions are fully explained to prisoners before they are released and that they understand the consequences of breaching their conditions.
• Amending the Parole Board rules to allow a prisoner’s failure to disclose the location of a victim’s body to be taken into account in parole decisions.

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, said:

“It is important that our parole process is fully transparent in a way that supports the needs of victims. Families who have been bereaved by crime have been campaigning for years for the introduction of Suzanne’s Law, which would amend the Parole Board rules to allow prisoner’s failure to disclose the location of a victim’s body to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to grant parole. Victim Support Scotland welcomes the introduction this amendment as part of this announcement.

“This is an important step in improving the criminal justice system, protecting those affected by crime, as well as reducing reoffending. Victims’ voices need to be heard through all stages of the criminal justice process. By improving information sharing and increasing the involvement of victims in the parole process, we are ensuring that our justice system is focussed on the needs of those impacted by crimes across the country.”

The full consultation report can be found here.