Criminal justice agencies

Criminal justice in Scotland is delivered by a number of different public, private and voluntary bodies. Five key agencies involved in the Scottish Criminal Justice System are explained below.

The criminal justice system is complicated, and it can be daunting to navigate your way around it. Victim Support Scotland can guide you through the system and refer you to specialist agencies. Please contact us if you need support.

Police Scotland is responsible for investigating crime and improving the safety and wellbeing of people and communities in Scotland. The police force includes Family Liaison Officers, specially trained police officers who act as the main point of contact when a family member has died due to a violent crime.

Police Scotland also works with and supports victims and witnesses of crime by communicating certain details of a case after a crime is reported. This includes case numbers and the name of the officer assigned to your case, as well as whether someone has been arrested or charged and if stolen property has been returned. The police may need to take a statement from you or collect evidence such as photos or clothes. Once enough evidence has been collected, and a suspect identified, the police will send a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

To contact Police Scotland:

  • Call 999 for emergencies
  • Call 101 for non-emergencies and general enquiries
  • Visit:

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is Scotland’s prosecution service. It receives reports from Police Scotland and other agencies, and then decides what action to take, including whether to prosecute someone and in which courts prosecutions should take place. It establishes causes of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths and investigates allegations of criminal conduct against police officers.

Victim Information and Advice (VIA) is part of COPFS.

VIA can help victims and witnesses in certain categories of crime who may need extra support. For example, they will arrange special measures, such as giving live evidence remotely, so you feel safer and more protected at court.

To contact COPFS:

The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service provides administrative support to Scottish courts and tribunals and to the judiciary of courts. It provides the staff, manages the buildings and delivers services for courts and tribunals to take place.

To contact the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service:

The Scottish Prison Service manages prisons, young offender institutions and rehabilitation of offenders.

The Scottish Prison Service manages the Victim Notification Scheme, where victims of a crime may be entitled to information about a perpetrators release from prison.

To contact the Scottish Prison Service:

The Parole Board for Scotland decides if prisoners are no longer regarded as presenting a risk to public safety and allows them to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community under the supervision of a social worker.

To contact the Parole Board for Scotland:

Whoever you are and whatever the crime, we’re here to help