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Justice Written Answer, 07/05/09 [S]

Written Answer given in response to Rhoda Grant's (Lab) question asking the Scottish Executive at what age it considers that children are able to receive information in their own right on a case where they are victims or witnesses and whether this differs from the age of criminal responsibility; or what reason the age at which children are able to receive information in their own right on cases where they are victims or witnesses differs from the age of criminal responsibility.

The Solicitor general, Frank Mulholland, replied that Victim Information and Advice will provide information direct to victims and witnesses aged 12 years and over. Where a child victim or witness aged seven to 11 years lives with a parent or guardian, VIA sends information to the parent or guardian to pass on to the child. The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is currently eight years.

In considering the age at which it was appropriate for Victim Information and Advice (VIA) to send information on case progress direct to children and young people in their own right, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service consulted with the Children’s Commissioner. This is also consistent with the Vulnerable Witness (Scotland) Act 2004 which presumes that a child witness is of sufficient age and maturity to form a view on special measures if aged 12 or older.

It should be noted that the proposed changes to the age of criminal responsibility will harmonise this.

For the full answer to this and other questions see the Scottish Parliament Written Answers Report 4 - 8 May 2009 which is available from the Scottish Parliament website.

Further Information

Scottish Parliament Written Answers Report 4 - 8 May 2009