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More rights for victims and witnesses

New measures come into force today.

Measures to improve the support and information available to victims and witnesses of crime in Scotland are being brought into force today.

This is the second package of measures to be implemented from the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014, which will improve the experience of victims and witnesses when dealing with Scotland’s justice system.

Victims and witnesses will have a new right to request information about their case from the police, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Scottish Court Service. This will ensure victims and witnesses remain informed and are able to keep up-to-date with their case.

These organisations, plus the Scottish Prison Service and Parole Board for Scotland, will also be required to set and publish standards of service to inform victims and witnesses about what to expect as they pass through the criminal justice system. The standards, due to be published by 30 April, have been developed in consultation with a range of stakeholders, and will be kept under review to ensure they remain relevant and useful.

Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson said:

“Providing more help and support for victims is key to building an even stronger criminal justice system in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is working closely with justice organisations to ensure victims and witnesses feel supported, safe and informed at every stage of the criminal justice process.

“We have worked closely with victim support organisations throughout the legislative process and in planning for implementation, and the measures in this Act have been widely welcomed.

“The measures in the Act seek to ensure that victims and witnesses are at the heart of reforms to Scotland’s justice system, giving them the confidence they need to know that their voices will be heard.”

Background notes

The Scottish Government provides over £5m in funding to victims organisations annually, including Victim Support Scotland.

The first package of justice measures from the Act was brought into force on 13 August 2014.

Further information on the Act can be found at the following link:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/policies/victims-witnesses

 

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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