Support for improved rights for victims
Improving experiences of the justice system.
Proposals to give victims a voice by creating an independent Commissioner to champion their rights secured broad support among respondents to a public consultation on supporting victims.
An analysis of the three-month consultation on improving peoples’ experience of the justice system found “support across the board” for giving complainers in sexual offence cases an automatic right to anonymity, as well as better trauma-informed and person-centred approaches being embedded in the justice system to improve how people are treated.
Respondents also expressed “very strong support” for independent legal support to be provided for people whose sexual histories are questioned during sexual offence cases, to ensure their views can effectively be made known to the court.
Views on specialist sexual offence courts and whether there should be a pilot of trials without juries for sexual offences were mixed in the consultation. The findings will inform final decisions about the content of the Criminal Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill. The legislation – to be introduced to Parliament by summer 2023 – will include previously announced provisions to end Scotland’s third, ‘Not Proven’ verdict in criminal trials.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:
“We continue to take robust action to tackle sexual offending – improving the law and encouraging more victims to come forward – but it is only right that victims are properly served by Scotland’s justice system which I am committed to continuing to reform.
“It is vital that people, not least victims of crime, are treated with compassion in a way that prevents potential further trauma. The final content of the Criminal Justice Reform Bill will be finalised in the coming months and I am grateful to all those who contributed to the consultation which will help shape the legislation that we introduce to Parliament.”
The consultation analysis report will be considered alongside reports from a cross-justice group looking at how to implement recommendations from Lady Dorrian’s review on improving management of sexual offence cases.
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