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Making Justice Work for Victims and Witnesses, Victims and Witnesses Bill, 22/05/12 - 20/07/12 [S]

The Scottish Government is consulting on proposals for a Victims and Witnesses Bill. The central objective of the Bill is to improve the experience of victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system. Consultation to 20 July 2012.

The Key Proposals are:

  • Introducing a victim surcharge so that offenders pay towards the cost of supporting victims – the proposal is it should be applied to court fines only in the first instance but that the legislation should allow for extension to custodial sentences, community sentences and direct measures at a later date.
  • Requiring the courts to consider compensation in every case where a victim has suffered injury, loss or distress – currently at the discretion of the court.
  • Creating a duty on relevant public agencies to set clear standards of service for victims and witnesses.
  • Creating an automatic right to special measures for victims giving evidence in court in cases involving sexual offences and domestic abuse.
  • Commissioning a feasibility study into how we can provide much better information for victims and the public about specific cases.
  • Improving the way cases are managed so that victims and witnesses can have far greater confidence that, where they are required to give evidence, the case will go ahead on the day as planned.
  • Victims should be able to make oral representations to a member of the Parole Board for criminals subject to life sentences.
The consultation proposes to change the definition of child witness to be up to age 18, and to put the Guidance on Joint Investigative Interviewing of Child Witnesses in Scotland on a statutory footing. It asks whether  the presumption that child witnesses under age 12 in prescribed sexual or violence cases should give evidence away from the court building, while retaining the ability for them to do so, should be removed. It also asks whether the submission of Child Witness Notices be made a compulsory part of pre-trial hearings.

The proposed legislation would extend eligibility for the Victim Statement scheme so that a carer of a child under age 14, who is not the direct victim of the crime, can make a Victim Statement on their behalf. The definition of carer would be changed so that the carer who makes the statement does not have to have been the carer at the time of the (alleged) offence.

Responses should be sent to by 20 July 2012.

For full details see Making Justice Work for Victims and Witnesses, Victims and Witnesses Bill- A Consultation Paper which is available from the Scottish Government website.

Further Information

Making Justice Work for Victims and Witnesses, Victims and Witnesses Bill- A Consultation Paper