Victims Taskforce papers: May 2022

Papers from the meeting of the Victims Taskforce on 26 May 2022


Minutes of the meeting on 26 January 2022

Attendees

  • Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Keith Brown (Co-Chair)
  • Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC (Co-Chair)
  • Vicki Bell, Law Society of Scotland (LSS)
  • Sandy Brindley, Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS)
  • Oona Brookes, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR)
  • Lynn Burns, Victims’ Voice
  • Michael Chalmers, SG
  • Willie Cowan, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Sue Brookes, Scottish Prison Service (SPS)
  • DCS Samantha Faulds, Police Scotland (PS)
  • Ann Fehilly, ASSIST
  • Mary Glasgow, Children 1st
  • Kathryn Lindsay, Social Work Scotland (SWS)
  • Karyn McCluskey, Community Justice Scotland (CJS)
  • Eric McQueen, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS)
  • Neill Mitchell, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA)
  • Jenny Paterson, Victim Support Scotland (VSS)
  • Iris Quar, AMIS (Rotating Victims Organisations Collaboration Forum Scotland (VOCFS) seat)
  • Marsha Scott, Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA)
  • Colin Spivey, Parole Board for Scotland (PBS)

Apologies

  • Linda Brown, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • David Harvie, Crown Agent, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Alistair Hogg, SCRA
  • Teresa Medhurst, SPS
  • Neil Rennick, Scottish Government
  • Ronnie Renucci QC, Faculty of Advocates
  • Kate Wallace, VSS

Other

  • Caroline Bruce, NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
  • Leah Soweid, VSS

Secretariat – Scottish Government/COPFS

  • Moira Price                                            Anna Donald
  • Zak Tuck                                                Sarah Smith
  • Bekki Aitken                                           John Wallace
  • Pam Stott                                               Lucy Lawson                    

 

Chairs’ welcome, minutes and matters arising

The Chairs’ welcomed members to the meeting and noted apologies.

The Cabinet Secretary referred members to Paper 1: Minute of the meeting of 24 November 2021, and noted that all actions were completed. 

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed by members.

 

Future of the Taskforce

The Lord Advocate introduced item 2 on the future of the Taskforce, referred members to papers 2, 3, 4 and 5 and provided some background to the discussion. The Lord Advocate highlighted the wide range of issues raised in the Victims’ Voices papers that had been presented to previous meetings of the Taskforce and the need for members to work together to deal with these issues effectively.

SG talked members through paper 2, ‘Future of the Victims Taskforce – Proposal revisited’ and set out the proposed options to ensure the work of the Taskforce remains rooted in victims’ voices. There are three aspects to the proposed plan for engagement:

  • Six-monthly engagement with the Taskforce Chairs. The means for this is open to discussion - it could follow the Sounding Board model previously proposed by VSS and RCS. Consideration will also need to be given as to whether representatives from the criminal justice agencies attend. It will be essential to provide feedback to those involved as to the impact of their contribution.
  • Ad hoc engagement on specific projects – this may be on system-wide issues or on a specific area
  • Identifying and engaging on key issues that are significant to victims and witnesses and cut across the criminal justice agencies

The Lord Advocate noted that the court backlog, as a result of the pandemic, was a significant issue in terms of delays, adjournments and additional trauma for victims and witnesses, and that there needs to be a collective endeavour to address this.

RCS highlighted that Lynn Burns had been integral to the Taskforce, in her role as victims’ representative. RCS felt that the Taskforce knew what the issues were and now needed to make its work more action-focussed and demonstrate an impact from survivors’ contributions. RCS also felt that engagement should be specific to crime type and/or survivor/victim groups. Children 1st agreed with this, making the point that child victims and witnesses have specific needs and get tired and frustrated at having to retell their story.

Children 1st and SPS pointed to examples involving children and young people where an extensive programme of engagement led to the development of a ‘library of experience’, which could, in turn, be consulted in developing the vision for that work. SPS suggested that a member of the Promise Team be invited to present on their experience at a future meeting of the Taskforce. Taskforce members thought this sounded like a useful approach.

ACTION: Explore the possibility of a representative from the Promise Team presenting at a future Taskforce meeting regarding engagement with victims/survivors.

SWA highlighted the importance of identifying focussed activities and that, whilst survivors can contribute to what the system should feel like, it is then essential to address the issues with that system, otherwise it is unfair to those contributing. SWA pointed to its local managers as an excellent repository of evidence from survivors. Further, SWA noted that some of the reforms identified were not new, such as evidence by commissioner, but implementation needed to happen faster and more efficiently.

SCTS suggested that engagement should focus on specific themes and whether the measures being put in place are making a difference. ASSIST agreed the need to be better use the “you said, we did” approach and consider how to measure improvement. Lynn Burns, SWS and RCS highlighted the need to be solution focussed and for the co-production of a wider vision for systemic change, with victims at the centre.

NES advised that a trauma informed approach would support routine feedback systems in each organisation, to enable all victims and witnesses who come into contact with the organisation the opportunity to give focussed feedback in a simple and easily accessible format.

PS provided examples of work it was doing through the Victims Taskforce and the Equally Safe strategy. RCS had facilitated sessions with survivors as part of the development of a more structured online feedback process, which will allow for issues to be identified and addressed in real time. The Public Protection Development Programme will take a holistic look at the public protection response at a local and national level and will include engagement. PS is also developing a Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, with an independent reference group including third sector and other partners.

VSS noted that the focus for this year’s Victims Awareness Week would be hearing the voices of ‘hidden’ victims, to highlight the untold stories of people who have come through crime.

PBS stressed the need to be share positive feedback in order to learn from each other. Members also discussed the importance of accountability (with regard to implementing change) and the possibility of developing quality indicators designed to capture the feelings and experiences of victims, rather than just measuring the services or supports in place.

The Cabinet Secretary summarised the discussion to this point and noted that the proposed approach to engagement with victims/survivors was an attempt to address the issues raised and find a suitable mechanism for co-production of services. The first meeting could be focussed on determining the best mechanism for future engagement, with a discussion paper issued in advance. The Cabinet Secretary further noted that the work of the Victim Centred Approach and Trauma Informed Workforce workstreams had been instrumental in shaping the new Justice Vision and Strategy and invited Willie Cowan from the SG to speak to the Taskforce on that matter.

ACTION: Arrange meeting with Chairs, victim support organisations and victim/survivor representatives to discuss approach to engagement.

SG provided an update on the new Justice Vision and accompanying delivery plan, which aims to ensure that all parts of the justice system deliver person-centred services and embed trauma-informed practices. With regard to the delivery plan and actions, he stressed the need to understand if the changes made were making a difference and to develop a system-level understanding of what is happening.

CJS suggested that an improvement framework should sit alongside the actions to improve the system - measuring where the system is now, what steps are being taken to improve it and whether they are working or not. This would fit with the aspiration for trauma informed practices and understanding how people experience the system.

 

SG also provided an update on the ‘Improving the Management of Sexual Offence Cases’ work. The Governance Group met for the first time on 21 December and talked through how the recommendations would be implemented, with not all requiring legislation. The Governance Group will develop an implementation framework to ensure efficient and effective delivery, whilst avoiding duplication of effort. It will be essential for victims/survivors’ voices to be heard at every stage of implementation.

The Cabinet Secretary highlighted the impact that the first meeting of the Taskforce had already made, for example, in shaping the new Justice Vision and in the Cabinet Secretary personally signing up for trauma informed training. The Cabinet Secretary sought agreement from members on the recommendations for the Taskforce’s future – that it meet every six months, that the workstreams be rationalised from five to two (with the Victim Centred Approach and Trauma Informed Workforce workstreams continuing) and that it progress the proposal for future engagement. Taskforce members endorsed these recommendations.

 

Any other business

RCS had raised issues with the SG around delays in the research on Independent Legal Representation, however, these had been resolved following discussion with officials from SG Justice Analytical Services. 

The Cabinet Secretary confirmed the secretariat would circulate the new Justice Vision and Strategy to Taskforce members when published.

Action: Circulate new Justice Vision and Strategy to Taskforce members

Actions

Action

Owner Update

Explore the possibility of a representative from the Promise Team presenting at a future Taskforce meeting regarding engagement with victims/survivors

Secretariat

Ongoing

Arrange meeting with Chairs, victim support organisations and victim/survivor representatives to discuss approach to engagement

Secretariat

Meeting arranged for 18 May

Circulate new Justice Vision and Strategy to Taskforce members

Secretariat

Circulated on 9 February

 

 

 

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