Victims Taskforce papers: June 2023

Papers from the meeting of the group on 1 June 2023.

Witness Portal update (paper 8)


To provide the Victims Taskforce with an update on the implementation of the Witness Gateway.


COPFS is committed to victims and witnesses being at the heart of what we do and delivering a trauma-informed service. We understand that being a witness involved in a court case can be an anxious time. The court process can be lengthy, and a witness may not understand what their expected involvement shall be or what stage their case is at. A witness may also want to look again at the statement they have already given to the Police.

COPFS is also committed to making improvements to its services and maximising the use of digital technology to enhance service delivery. The Witness Gateway will provide a single online source for witnesses to access services and information related to their case. It will allow witnesses to confirm their availability to attend court, access their witness statement and receive updates on the status of the case. Digital facilities for witnesses to submit expense claims online and access witness guidance and support information - from COPFS and other justice partners and third sector organisations - will help provide a one-stop service for witnesses.

Witness Gateway products and current status

COPFS’ Information Services Division (ISD) has completed the phase of development of the Witness Gateway to allow an evaluation phase to commence from June 2023. Feedback received from key stakeholder is factored into the design and development of the Witness Gateway. COPFS’ Victim Information and Advice (VIA) services are aligned with the relevant processes and information incorporated to the Witness Gateway system to further support engagement with vulnerable victims and witnesses. The underpinning principles of the Witness Gateway will meet the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Service Standards as well as being trauma-led and user-focussed. Security standards are also fundamental to the design of the new online service.

The services and facilities included in Witness Gateway being evaluated from June include:

  • secure digital user login using the Scottish Government’s Digital Identity Service
  • witness identity verification and authentication
  • witness availability confirmation and engagement
  • view witness statements
  • witness case information and status updates
  • witness expense claims
  • digital assistant/chatbot to make accessing information easier

Evaluation and implementation

We are adopting a phased approach to evaluating the new Witness Gateway service ahead of implementing this nationally later this year. From June, the evaluation phase will enable selected stakeholders and users to evaluate the new solution in a managed setting. This approach will provide important feedback on the use and design of the Witness Gateway and ensure the relevant COPFS VIA, casework and supporting business processes are fully in place. The evaluation will also identify any final development needed and validate the security and information management elements.

Following the evaluation phase, we will move to a wider national rollout from October involving extended witness users and case types ahead of full implementation in early 2024. Communications published over the next few weeks will detail the implementation plan and how we will engage with stakeholders to evaluate and introduce the new service.

COPFS will continue engaging with justice partners and stakeholders to further develop the Witness Gateway for other victims and witnesses services as part of our commitment to delivering a trauma-informed service.

Keith Dargie
Head of Business Services

25 May 2023


Victims Taskforce minutes: June 2023

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