Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill: island communities impact assessment

Records the decision not to carry out an island communities impact assessment for the Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill. It explains why the Bill will not have a significantly different effect on island communities and describes how this assessment has been made.

Findings in relation to impacts on island communities

Consultation on not proven and related reforms

The analysis of responses to the consultation on not proven and related reforms found that the majority of the 99 respondents who answered the question about island communities in the consultation on not proven and related reforms thought there would be no impacts. A few respondents commented on island communities specifically however no significant impacts were raised.

Consultation on improving victims' experiences of the justice system

The analysis of responses to the consultation on improving victims' experiences of the justice system found that respondents generally agreed that victims living in more remote communities, such as the Scottish islands, faced particular challenges with regard to accessing justice and there was agreement that support was needed for victims who live remotely. In particular, it was felt that assistance with costs of travel or reducing the need to travel for appearances at court through more frequent and consistent use of technological solutions would be helpful.

A specific concern was raised that people living in island communities may not benefit from anonymity provisions in the same way as people from more populous areas, as such close-knit communities tend to be aware of what is happening within them. Overall, however, it was observed that many of the proposals would have a positive impact on accessibility and access to support.

The analysis of responses does not record any specific points on special measures in courts on the islands. However, one point made by consultees generally on special measures was about the availability of equipment. The analysis of responses noted that "increased demand for relevant specialist equipment, especially at short notice, or for cases heard in settings outside of a normal court room, could be difficult to manage, for example. Any lack of availability in equipment (due to increased demand) could then impact on case progress and cause delays (unless additional funding for equipment was put in place)."

Wider consultation and engagement

No significant impacts on island communities have been identified through engagement with stakeholders.

Other sources

The consultation on registers of child welfare reporters, curators ad litem and solicitors, which ran between March and July 2021 sought views on measures contained in the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 ("the 2020 Act"). Provisions of the 2020 Act, when commenced, will provide for solicitors to be appointed when a person is prohibited from conducting their own case in certain circumstances. The current Bill intends to extend this to civil cases in general.

The consultation on the 2020 Act measures noted there may be an impact on island communities if there were fewer solicitors available in island communities who could be appointed from the register to represent a person who is prohibited from personally conducting their own case.



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