9 Other Comments
9.1 A number of consultees provided additional commentary over and above their responses to specific questions and these are detailed in this chapter.
9.2 A number of consultees (15) provided background information on themselves or their organisation in order to provide some context for their responses. Nine consultees welcomed the opportunity to respond to this consultation; and 9 also noted their support for the broad principles of this consultation in terms of improvements for the experiences of victims and witnesses, one of whom (a voluntary sector organisation), also noted the importance of endeavours to prevent individuals becoming victims in the first instance.
9.3 That said, 5 consultees had concerns over the logistical implications of this Bill, namely:
- How additional resources would be funded, whether additional resources would be made available or how additional costs will be met;
- The need for budgets within groups and organisations providing support to victims and witnesses;
- How some of the practicalities of the proposals would be put in place;
- That a central hub and databases containing all information could be difficult to set up.
9.4 While there was broad support for the proposals contained in the consultation document, a small number of consultees noted additional areas that they felt should also be included, and these were:
- Consideration of victims of human rights violation, human rights relevant to victims and a broader definition of victim according to international human rights; reference to recent EHRC inquiries;
- Inclusion of restorative justice in terms of reparation and mediation;
- Outline which of the six objectives on page 3 of the consultation paper apply where children commit an offence;
- Reference to the provision of information relating to offences committed by children, and that this needs the same balance as under section 53 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003; additionally, more reference to the Children's Hearings system;
- Reference to the public sector equality duty; one consultee made specific reference to disabled people needing equal access to justice which they felt does not currently happen;
- That information will also be provided proactively to victims whose cases will not proceed to court;
- Definition in statute of an Appropriate Adult.
9.5 A number of consultees reiterated points made during their response to questions and these included:
- A need for standards to be developed to provide help, support and special protection;
- A need for various types of information, support and protection to be provided to victims and witnesses at various points in time throughout the process;
- That the process should be expeditious, inexpensive, accessible and fair;
- The need for improvements in the way cases are managed e.g. no time delays;
- That there is a general lack of knowledge from many in the justice system about different aspects such as an understanding of gender-based violence, different legal processes;
- Specific reference to the needs of victims of road crashes;
- That all agencies and organisations involved in delivering services to victims and witnesses need to follow the standards of service being suggested;
- Support for the concept of a general hub.
9.6 Other suggestions included:
- SG to address issues relating to Timebar so that the Criminal and Civil Scottish Justice System is equitable and accessible for all, including historical abuse victims and to provide equitable redress and remedies based on Victim's needs which Scottish Justice system fails to address issues.
9.7 One consultee suggested that the SG should give consideration to the concept of payback hours or a local community time bank scheme. Another provided a possible model for communication support services. Additionally, there were references to a number of relevant studies that have been undertaken and instances where data was used to back up points being made in responses to the consultation paper.
9.8 Another consultee noted the importance of victim inclusion in the process and the need to ensure that victims are treated as first class citizens.
Email: Debbie Headrick
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