Victim/Survivor Advisory Board to the Victims Taskforce – background to draft proposed terms of reference
The initial meeting of the Victim/Survivor Advisory Board to the Victims Taskforce took place on 29 September 2022. The advisory board membership includes victims/survivors with lived experience of crime and abuse (‘victims’ representatives’) and Victim Support Organisation (VSO) representatives.
The initial September meeting provided an opportunity for representatives to get to know each other and have informal, facilitated discussion of the issues which the advisory board wishes to consider. The Cabinet Secretary, Crown Office officials and Scottish Government Officials joined remotely for the second half of this first meeting.
A draft Terms of Reference was circulated in advance of the first meeting to all attendees, who also contributed additions and edits to the document during and after the meeting.
The proposed Terms of Reference for the advisory board in the current form is attached. This intentionally remains designated as a draft document as it is intended that it will be shaped further by members of the advisory board in subsequent meetings as the group becomes established. Likewise, the terminology around the advisory board, including the name of the group, is open to change, with one incoming suggestion that the title of Lived Experience Advisory Board to the Victims Taskforce might be more appropriate. The name may be subject to change once members of the advisory board have had an opportunity to discuss and agree it at their next meeting.
The advisory board will meet again in early 2023 and will develop the programme of work it will follow in tandem with the workstreams of the Victims Taskforce.
Terms of reference
Victim/Survivor Advisory Board to the Victims Taskforce
The purpose of the Victim/Survivor Advisory Board is to ensure that the voices of victims/survivors are at the heart of the work of the Victims Taskforce’s. The advisory board will provide a platform for victim/survivors’ feedback to be shared and discussed, and for these experiences to inform the Victims Taskforce’s work in delivering practical, system-wide improvements.
The name ‘Victim/Survivor Advisory Board to the Victims Taskforce’ is intended to reflect the key role played by the group in supporting the Victims Taskforce.
Membership and attendees
Victim/Survivor Advisory Board members will include:
- victims/survivors with lived experience of crime and abuse (‘victims’ representatives’)
- Victim Support Organisation (VSO) representatives
Although the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans and the Lord Advocate will not be members of the advisory board, they will actively support its work.
The advisory board may choose to invite the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans, the Lord Advocate, and other organisations and members of the Victims Taskforce to attend meetings, depending on the particular topic or theme for discussion. This will provide organisations the opportunity to hear directly from victims and survivors.
Lynn Burns, the current representative of victims’ voices on the Victims Taskforce, will be a member of the advisory board.
Victims’ representatives will be nominated by the VSOs, with up to two representatives from each VSO, who may change between advisory board meetings. Victims’ representatives should have sight of the draft terms of reference in advance of the first meeting and conversations are encouraged between VSOs and victims’ representatives about what their participation would involve, with reference to the Terms of Reference document.
The intention is to identify up to four further victims’ representatives through specialist organisations working with groups who are multiply-disadvantaged or marginalised by the justice system (for example...). This is to ensure that the advisory board hears views and perspectives from as wide a range of victims’ representatives as possible. Identifying these representatives may take time so they may not be present for the first few meetings of the advisory board.
VSOs will each provide a staff member to support the victims’ representatives during meetings.
Victims’ representatives will be over 18. Engaging well with children and young people often requires a different approach to engagement with adults. A separate approach will be developed to ensure that the voices of child victims and survivors can be heard by Taskforce.
Victims’ representatives will be remunerated by the Scottish Government, via their respective victim support organisation, for any expenses, as well as for the time spent to enable them to participate. These expenses could include travel costs, childcare costs, and data costs for online meetings.
The advisory board will meet at least every six months, usually thee months before taskforce meetings. The advisory board may agree to meet more frequently, especially within the initial year of formation.
Meeting format, chairing, facilitation and secretariat
The format of meetings will be key to ensuring the advisory board can contribute to the creation of a person-centred and trauma-informed justice system. It may take time for trust to build between the advisory board members, and to create a space where people feel safe, supported, and empowered to share their views. Meeting format may evolve over time as members work together to create that space. An initial proposed format is set out in this section.
Advisory board members will agree the time and duration of meetings, taking account of practical considerations (such as caring responsibilities) to best enable full participation.
Victims’ representatives will meet together, supported by VSO staff. Ministers and any invited justice organisations will only attend for sections of the meeting, if requested by the advisory board.
It is proposed that the Advisory Board explores chairing options which allow the victims’ representatives to best express their viewpoints. This could include independent facilitation.
Meetings may be in-person, fully online, or hybrid to allow members to join remotely. This will be arranged in discussion with the advisory board.
VSOs will arrange venues and facilitation and provide any secretariat required for the first part of the meeting (ie in the absence of Scottish Ministers and justice organisations). Scottish Government (SG) officials from the Victims and Witnesses Policy Team will provide support for elements of the meeting involving the Scottish Ministers.
The advisory board will determine what it wishes to focus on. This will include issues in response to requests from the Victims Taskforce, which would relate to matters within that group’s role and remit. The diagram at annex A, sets out key areas relating to the Victims Taskforce remit.
The advisory board may also consider and provide feedback to the Victims’ Taskforce on wider issues within the justice system where victims have an interest.
The advisory board may decide to focus on particular themes or specific issues, and may submit issues to the Victims Taskforce for that group’s consideration.
Conduct and wellbeing support
By participating in the Victims Taskforce Advisory Board, members agree to:
- be respectful of the opinions of others
- allow others to speak and not interrupt when they are speaking
- only share experiences if they feel comfortable doing so
- respect confidentiality
- inform the facilitator or a Victim Support Organisation staff member if they need support or have any other concerns
Some topics of discussion might have emotional or distressing connections and it is vital that individuals are not re-traumatised as a result of participation in the advisory board. Discussions will be facilitated by appropriately trained facilitators and VSO staff will be present to support victims’ representatives in meetings. If further practical or emotional support is required by participants, the VSO staff member(s) present will give details of appropriate support services.
VSOs will provide the opportunity for the victims’ representatives to connect with the expertise of victims/survivors, in order to support the representatives to bring collective expertise to the discussion at hand.
Feedback with taskforce
There will be a feedback mechanism between the advisory board and Victims Taskforce, which will be fundamental to the success of the relationship between the advisory board and the Victims Taskforce. It will enable victims’ representatives to be heard by the Victims Taskforce, and to see the action that is being taken by the Victims Taskforce as a result of their contributions. It will foster co-production of solutions to improve the operation of the Victims Taskforce by developing solutions which, it is hoped, will make a real difference to victims and survivors of crime.
An initial proposed approach to the feedback mechanism is at Annex B.
Privacy and confidentiality
The advisory board needs to be a space where individuals can feel safe and comfortable raising issues related to their own experience. Advisory board members must respect the confidentiality of other participants and must not discuss the personal details or experiences of others with people outside the group.
When victims’ representatives attend meetings virtually, they need not have their cameras or microphones on unless they feel comfortable doing so. The chat function of online meetings will be available as an additional way that individuals might contribute to discussions.
Contact details of all victims’ representatives will be kept private and will not be shared with other participants..
The SG will hold records of meetings in its internal storage software. This software is not publicly accessible and access will be restricted to specific members of the SG Victims and Witnesses Unit. Further information on how the Scottish Government holds and handles data is available on the Scottish Government webpage on Privacy.
Any subsequent policy and communication work may use anonymised quotes and themes that emerge from individual meetings. If any member does not want particular quotes or experiences to be included within the evidence gathered, they should notify the SG Secretariat or the VSO supporting them. Participation in the advisory board is done on this basis.
The above provisions about privacy and confidentiality should be explained at each meeting.
Victims’ representatives will sign a participation consent form within their first advisory board meeting. This form will be co-signed by a staff member of the respective VSO. An example consent form, to be reviewed and approved by the advisory board in the first meeting, is available in annex C.
By attending, participants agree to comply with the terms of consent laid out within this document.
Outwith VTF remit but of interest
- Justice for Children and Young People – a rights respecting approach
- Not Proven consultation and associated reforms
- Bairns’ Hoose
- Victim Surcharge Fund
- Lady Dorrian’s report
- Consultation on bail and release from custody arrangements
- Community Justice Strategy
- Case Related Data Transformation Project
- CivTech Challenge
- Misogyny Bill
- Changes to Victim Statement Scheme
- Support for families following murder/ homicide abroad
- Minister for Community Safety – Women in Justice
- Challenging men’s demand for prostitution
- Digital Evidence Sharing Capability
- Restorative Justice Action Plan
- Justice Vision – Development and roadmap
- Recover, Renew, Transform
- Victim-Centred Approach Fund
Outwith VTF remit but some input
- Victim Notification Scheme review
- Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses
- pre-recording of Evidence
- consultation on improving victims’ experiences of the justice system
- comms review
- victims of road traffic offences
- Victims Commissioner
- Victims Taskforce
- victim centred approach
- trauma informed workforce
Annex B – potential feedback mechanism
A ‘feedback’ agenda item could be included at each Victims Taskforce and advisory board meeting. For example, each Victims Taskforce meeting could begin with an update provided from the previous advisory board meeting, with Victims Taskforce members invited to take responsibility for investigating issues raised.
Victims Taskforce members would also be invited to report back on the changes they were taking forward as a result of feedback from victim/survivors. This information would be fed back at the following advisory board meeting, with Victims Taskforce members potentially invited to attend advisory board meetings to provide updates on actions which they are leading on.
It is proposed that an issues/feedback log be implemented which contains information on: the particular topic or theme under discussion; feedback from the advisory board; a Victims Taskforce action lead(s); actions being undertaken, and; progress made in a RAG (Red Amber Green) format. This log could be a standing item on both the advisory board and Victims Taskforce agendas.
A description of the proposed feedback process is provided below:
- the Victims Taskforce will have a standing agenda item to consider the advisory board's issues/feedback log
- progress updates on outstanding issues should be provided by the respective action lead, who will be a member of the Victims Taskforce
- if the advisory board has made suggestions for new issues/feedback, these should be discussed and either: a Victims Taskforce member should be assigned as the action lead; the suggestion should be amalgamated into other outstanding issues/feedback, or; the suggestion deemed out of scope for the Victims Taskforce
- invitations should be considered for action leads to attend the next advisory board meeting and provide updates to the advisory board in person
- the issues log should be updated by the appropriate action lead(s)
- the advisory board will have a standing agenda item to discuss its issues/feedback log
- progress updates should be communicated, either by reviewing the issues/feedback log or by having the Victims Taskforce action lead(s) invited to provide these in-person/online. Deadlines should also be determined for the next update
- the advisory board will also discuss whether it wants to provide any new suggestions not covered under the current work and issues/feedback being considered by the Victims Taskforce and whether other structures/approaches should be engaged with
Victims Taskforce Advisory Board - consent form
Taking Part (please tick yes or no)
- I have had the advisory board’s terms of reference shared with me and explained to me
- I have been given the opportunity to ask questions about the advisory board
- I understand that my taking part is voluntary; I can withdraw my involvement at any time by using the contact details of the VSO staff member for my respective organisation. I do not have to give any reasons for why I no longer want to take part
- I understand that my personal details such as phone number and address will not be revealed to people outside the advisory board
- I understand that stories or quotes provided may be quoted anonymously in publications, reports, web pages, and other other Scottish Government/Victims Taskforce outputs unless I have specified for these not to be used or specified I wish for them to be provided without anonymity
Please choose one of the following two options:
- I would like my real name to be used in any publications, reports, web pages, and other Scottish Government (please note that this is not always possible)
- I would not like my real name to be used in any publications, reports, web pages, and other VSS outputs
Please sign below to show that you have understood the above and are happy for the Scottish Government to use your data as specified:
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