Anyone can be affected by crime at any time. Many people have little or no knowledge of the criminal justice process and are unaware of their rights as victims or witnesses and so are unable to exercise them.
If people impacted by crime don’t know what rights they have, they are immediately at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing the support they need as well as knowing what they can expect from the justice system.
“When it comes to my own experience of the criminal justice system, I didn’t feel I had a voice.
“I’ve spent more time talking about my experience for the sake of people affected by crimes similar to my own, bypassing the fact that the system was part of what made my experience not okay.”
Victim Support Scotland is here to make sure you can access your rights as a victim or witness when interacting with the criminal justice system.
Victim and witness rights are set out in the Scottish Government’s Victims’ Code for Scotland, which includes the right to:
- A minimum standard of service – to be treated fairly and equally
- Information – how you’ll be updated about your case and what you can ask about
- Participation – being understood, understanding what’s happening and telling the court how a crime has affected you
- Protection – feeling safe and protected from intimidation
- Support – whether you report the crime to the police or not
- Compensation and expenses – such as travel expenses, loss of earnings or compensation if you were injured
- Complain – if you’re unhappy about how an organisation has treated you
More about the Victims’ Code for Scotland
Current legislation in Scotland states that victims of crime must be provided with information on their rights, and who to contact for help and advice. The Scottish Government’s Victims’ Code for Scotland provides information on:
- The types of support that victims may obtain and from whom that support can be obtained
- Reporting a crime
- Protection, including special measures
- Legal advice/legal aid
- Interpretation and translation
- Anything in place that protects victims’ interests when a crime is committed outwith Scotland
- Making a complaint against a competent authority (criminal justice agency)
- The contact details for all competent authorities
- The available restorative justice services
- Reimbursement for expenses
All victims have the right to receive a copy of the Code and any other information on their rights. The police must make sure that victims are told about the Code and that they know they can request a copy from the police or any other criminal justice agency.
The Code is available in the following languages: Arabic, Bahdini, Farsi, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian, Slovak, Sorani and Urdu. To access the Code in any of these languages, please visit the Scottish Government website. If you need the Code in another language not listed here, please call the Scottish Government on 0131 224 4227 to request this.
If you want to talk about your rights as a victim or witness, Victim Support Scotland can help.
*Jamie’s name has been changed to protect his identity.