We will improve the experience of victims and witnesses, minimising court attendance and supporting them to give best evidence.
Key Achievements by Priority in 2017/18
- An additional £1.1m for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) and the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service ( SCTS) to respond to the growth in sexual offence referrals and reduce the time such cases take to progress through the justice system. The additional funding will be used to recruit more fiscal, judiciary and court staff, provide enhanced information and support to victims, and tackle causes of delays.
- Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Bill (currently in progress) will introduce a new rule that children (in the first instance) in the most serious cases, will have their evidence pre- recorded. It will also remove legislative barriers to vulnerable adults giving pre-recorded video evidence.
- Justice partners continue to take forward the justice contribution to Scotland's Equally Safe Strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls.
- The consultation on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 has promoted public and stakeholder contributions on how better to protect domestic abuse victims in civil cases such as contact.
- Research is underway with victims-survivors of rape and sexual assault to ensure that victims' interests are at the heart of the criminal justice system.
- Justice partners collaborated with Health Improvement Scotland to publish new National Standards for forensic medical examinations of victims of sexual offending in December 2017. http://healthcareimprovementscotland.org/our_work/person-centred_care/resources/sexual_assault_services.aspx
- Additional funding was provided to improve services for victims of rape or sexual assault to reduce trauma, and the national advocacy pilot project to facilitate engagement with the legal process was extended.
- In June 2018 the Scottish Government published the first Annual Progress Report on implementation of the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, setting out key achievements in supporting victims, tackling perpetrators, and addressing the factors that lead to trafficking. https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00536753.pdf .
- A new, 3-year £13.8 million funding package for Victim Support Scotland ( VSS) has been agreed, which will enable them to provide free practical and emotional support to victims of crime. VSS will develop a new Homicide Service and lead on the development of a new approach to put victims at the centre of the justice system, ensuring their voices are heard, and reducing trauma.
- Justice partners will continue to take forward arrangements to increase confidence in the initial post-mortems undertaken with the aim of reducing the demand for subsequent re-investigation of results and further post-mortems being sought.
Our priority will be to deliver reform that ensures cases are dealt with effectively, fairly and without delay to improve the experience of victims and witnesses in Scotland and to ensure they feel well-informed, valued and respected. Harnessing the opportunities afforded by digital technology will be key to improving experience.
New Activity for 2018/19
- A package of measures will be brought forward to strengthen victims' rights and support, increase transparency and extend the opportunity for those affected by crime to have their voices heard, for example with reference to Parole and prison release arrangements.
- A consultation will be held on widening the range of serious crimes where the victim can make a statement to the court about how the crime has affected them physically, emotionally and financially.
- Subject to approval by Parliament, the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Bill will complete its progress through Parliament.
- Following the consultation on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, SG and partners will consider what further measures are required to protect domestic abuse victims in family cases.
- The Scottish Government will consult in the Autumn on further protections for those at risk of domestic abuse through new protective orders that could be used to keep victims of domestic abuse safe, by banning perpetrators from their homes.
- Following the successful pilot of the Caledonian System domestic abuse programme, new funding of £2.8 million will be provided over the next 2 years to allow the expansion of the programme to new local authority areas, so that more male perpetrators of domestic abuse can receive specific rehabilitation services alongside wrap around support for victims.
- A consultation will be launched in November on how to improve multi-agency interventions for victims of domestic abuse who are at a high risk of harm, so that they receive better support and are kept safer.
- Justice partners will take forward work with other governments and key stakeholders to explore the application of the Barnahus concept for immediate trauma informed support for child victims of serious and traumatic crimes.
- Work will continue with partners to implement the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy. Key priorities include the development of regional partnerships, publishing guidance for businesses, and joining up relevant research to better inform work to tackle trafficking and exploitation.