Independent Review of the Victim Notification Scheme


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The Victim Notification Scheme (VNS) enables eligible victims to receive certain information about the release of a prisoner. 

In some cases, a victim also has the right to

  • be told when the prisoner is considered for parole
  • make representations about their release

The VNS was established in 2004 under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. That Act has since been changed to expand the scope of the scheme.  

This has included changes which have created a separate Victim Notification Scheme for victims of patients in the forensic mental health system.

However, we understand that victims and victim support organisations have some concerns about the VNS. We want to make sure that the scheme works well and is serving victims effectively. 

In March 2022 the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans appointed Alastair MacDonald and Fiona Young to conduct an independent review of the VNS, including the separate scheme for victims of offenders with a mental disorder.

The review was launched in April 2022 and ran for just over a year.

The review’s report, supplement to the report and easy-read version of the report were published on 12 May 2023.  We are now considering the report’s conclusions and recommendations and will publish a formal response in due course.  


  • Chair – Alastair MacDonald
  • Vice-Chair – Fiona Young
  • Secretariat – Michael Gough, Sarah Meanley and Rhianna King (Scottish Government)


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