Putting people at the heart of the justice system.
A consultation on improving victims’ experiences of the justice system, with a particular focus on sexual offences, has opened.
It takes forward the work of the Victims Taskforce and Programme for Government commitments to establish a Victims’ Commissioner, introduce a statutory right to anonymity for complainers in sexual offence cases and carefully consider the recommendations from Lady Dorrian’s Review into the management of sexual offence cases.
The 12 week consultation is part of a wide-ranging programme of work to transform the justice system and deliver the Scottish Government’s new Vision for Justice in Scotland.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:
“The Scottish Government recognises that the justice system can be distressing and re-traumatising for those who come into contact with it. We are committed to improving victims’ experiences of the system by putting them at its centre.
“This consultation explores how to do this by making the justice system more trauma informed and person centred.
“It is an important part of far-reaching and ambitious plans to bring about transformational change necessary to ensure our justice system is trusted, modern, smart and effective.
“We will continue to take an open and collaborative approach to achieve this aim, and this consultation will seek to capture the views of legal professionals, the third sector and those with experience of the system.”
The consultation is informed by the work of the Victims Taskforce and the review led by Lady Dorrian, Improving the Management of Sexual Offence Cases. The Review’s recommendations relate to victims of sexual offences experiences of the justice system, but the consultation recognises that the themes of the review have wider applicability across the system and offer the potential to drive transformational change for the broader benefit of all users. Some of the proposals relate to issues relevant to victims of any crime, others are specific to victims of sexual crime. The full list of issues discussed:
- Establishing a Victims’ Commissioner for Scotland
- Options to underpin a trauma-informed and person-centred approach
- Special measures to assist vulnerable parties involved in civil cases
- Review of the requirement for people accused of crimes to provide details of their proposed defence in a statement provided to the court
- New statutory underpinning for anonymity for complainers in sexual offence cases
- Independent Legal Representation for sexual offence complainers where a request is made to lead evidence in court which relates to their sexual history and/or bad character
- The potential establishment of a specialist sexual offences court
- Consideration of the issues relating to single judge trials for serious sexual offence cases
The consultation closes 5 August 2022.
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