Representative organisations of victims and designated persons under the Act
There are a range of organisations and services which support and represent victims, families and people with convictions. The following is not an exhaustive list but illustrates the range of support that exists.
Domestic abuse victims
There is a national helpline available to all victims of domestic abuse and those who have experienced forced marriage or at risk of forced marriage, in Scotland, regardless of gender. This service is provided by the National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline Scotland.
Scottish Women's Aid is a leading organisation in Scotland working towards the prevention of domestic abuse. They play a vital role in campaigning and lobbying for effective responses to domestic abuse. Local Women's Aid groups provide specialist services, including safe refuge accommodation, information and support, to women, children and young people, are available across Scotland.
Victim Support Scotland
Victim Support Scotland is the largest organisation in Scotland helping people affected by crime. It provides emotional support, practical help and essential information to all victims, witnesses and others affected by crime. The service is free, confidential and is provided by volunteers through a network of community- and court-based services. VSS can provide information on other organisations that can help people affected by crime.
Victim and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 ("the 2014 Act")
The 2014 Act brings into law a number of changes to improve the experience victims and witnesses have of Scotland's justice system, including:
- creating a duty for justice organisations to set clear standards of service for victims and witnesses
- giving victims and witnesses new rights to certain information about their case
- improving support for vulnerable witnesses in court - for example, changing the definition of "child witness" to include all those under 18 (instead of under 16), and creating a presumption that certain categories of victim are vulnerable, and giving such victims the right to utilise certain special measures when giving evidence
- places a duty on the Lord Advocate to set out rules about the process for reviewing a decision not to prosecute
The 2014 Act has been amended by the Victims' Rights (Scotland) Regulations 2015 which introduces measures such as:
- the right to information about the release of offenders serving less than 18 months imprisonment (complementing the existing Victim Notification Scheme)
- the right to interpretation and translation
- the right to written acknowledgements of reports made to the police
The Regulations also introduce the Victims' Code for Scotland. The Code sets out, clearly and in one place, the rights and support available to victims of crime in Scotland.
Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses
New Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses have been developed by Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board for Scotland working in partnership.
Section 2 of the 2014 Act requires Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board for Scotland to set and publish standards of service for victims and witnesses. This informs victims and witnesses as to what to expect in their interaction with these organisations. The standards contain information specific to the functions of each organisation including a clear complaints procedure.
The standards have been developed in close consultation with a number of victim organisations in Scotland, and will be reviewed (with further consultation taking place before any proposed changes are made) in accordance with the 2014 Act. The standards will be monitored, reviewed and reported on annually.
They can be found on the following websites:
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service at
Scottish Prison Service
and the Parole Board for Scotland
The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland was rolled out across Scotland in October 2015.
This scheme gives people a formal mechanism to make inquiries about their partner if they are worried they may have been abusive in the past. It aims to help women to make more informed decisions on whether to continue a relationship, and provides further help.
The Victim Notification Scheme is a statutory scheme, which came into force on 1 November 2004. Under the scheme victims have a right to get information about the release of a prisoner. They also have a right to be told when the prisoner is considered for parole and to make written representations (comments) about their release to the Parole Board for Scotland. The scheme covers all offenders who have been sentenced to 18 months or more.
If the offender has been sentenced to less than 18 months in prison, victims can write to the Scottish Prison Service and ask them to let them know when the offender is released, or if the offender escapes.
Organisations representing people with convictions or their families
Positive Prison? Positive Futures... is a charity which aims to help people within the criminal justice system to recognise that it is possible to make their own decisions to move away from offending and to re-establish their citizenship within their own community.
Families Outside is an independent charity which has been helping prisoners' families in Scotland for over 20 years. It offers support and information to families affected by imprisonment.
Sacro is a Scottish
community justice organisation which works to create safer and more
cohesive communities across Scotland. Sacro provides a wide range
of services spanning all aspects of the community justice
continuum. These range from conflict resolution to prevent disputes
to supporting prisoners on release.
The information in this appendix is not exhaustive and many third sector and other organisations provide helplines and support to victims, people with convictions and the families of people involved with the justice system.