Trauma informed practice principles of endorsement
The Victims Taskforce commissioned the draft framework, Trauma Informed Justice – A Knowledge and Skills Framework for Working with Victims and Witnesses in response to recent reports highlighting the considerable and multiple ways in which victims and witnesses experience the criminal justice system as exacerbating the impact of their prior experiences of trauma, and the negative impact this has on their ability to give evidence effectively, and on their recovery.
The Scottish Government set out its Vision for Justice in Scotland earlier this year which contains the aim that we have effective, modern person-centred and trauma-informed approaches to justice in which everyone can have trust, including as victims, those accused of crimes and as individuals in civil disputes.
The framework has the ambition of ensuring there is a shared language and understanding around the aims of a trauma informed justice system for victims and witnesses across all staff, and of identifying what staff in different roles need to know and are able to do to bring that about. This will allow training to be developed consistently across organisations adapted to the need of individual staff groups, depending on their role in relation to witnesses affected by trauma.
Over the course of 2021/2022, information and evidence were gathered from:
- interviews with 16 justice leaders
- 12 members with relevant lived experience of respective Victim Support Scotland (VSS) and Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) reference groups and
- a range of evidence and literature reviews
This evidence was used to identify the key elements of a trauma informed justice system for victims and witnesses, and the knowledge and skills required to fulfil those aims, from which the draft Knowledge and Skills Framework was constructed.
The draft framework was released for consultation and review on 8th March 2022, and all organisations represented on the VTF were invited to comment through a consultation session on 29 March. A total of 40 attendees representing COPFS, Police Scotland, SCTS, SPS, CICA, SCRA, Community Justice Scotland, VSS, RCS, Children 1st, AMIS, the Law Society of Scotland, the Parole Board and the Scottish Community Safety Network attended.
Small group discussions were held and feedback sought on overall impression of the framework and its aims and ambitions; the structure, role groupings and language used; and the specific contents of each of the trauma informed, skilled and enhanced practice levels.
In addition to the consultation event, the 12 witnesses with relevant lived experience who were initially interviewed for this project were also invited to give feedback on the framework.
VTF organisations were also invited to feedback via a formal survey which opened on the 8 March. A total of six organisations responded to the survey: SCTS, COPFS, Police Scotland, SPS, the Law Society of Scotland and VSS.
This feedback has been carefully worked through and a final draft was agreed at the workstream two group on 2 November. It was also agreed that a summary document of around 16 pages will be developed and available ahead of the launch of the framework. This will be shared with taskforce members by correspondence as soon as possible.
The workstream has reviewed and agreed the draft framework and asks that the taskforce now signs off Trauma Informed Justice – A Knowledge and Skills Framework for Working with Victims and Witnesses as a final working document and in doing so considers the following actions and principles of endorsement:
- that taskforce organisations sign off on the final version of the framework Trauma Informed Justice – A Knowledge and Skills Framework for Working with Victims and Witnesses and support the pledge below
- that the workstream revisits and as necessary amends its remit, timeline and workplan to support the implementation of the framework
- that members of the taskforce consider how their organisation may support the launch of the framework, including what any launch events and joint signals of support might consist of
Victims Taskforce: trauma informed justice pledge
We endorse this Knowledge and Skills Framework, and in the years ahead will work to interpret and implement its aims and aspirations and associated knowledge and skills as they apply across our workforce and services in order to:
- recognise and understand the ways that psychological trauma can affect witnesses and their evidence, and the workforce
- use that understanding to enable witnesses affected by trauma to participate fully and give the best quality evidence they can
- recognise and minimise risks for re-traumatisation and further harm to witnesses, and maximise opportunities for their recovery, offering a sense of safety and predictability where possible
- support the wellbeing and resilience of the workforce
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