Raising the Standards for victims and witnesses

Apr 28, 2017
The Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses Annual Report 2016-17 has been published today providing an update on how criminal justice agencies are performing on the standards.

The report which is produced jointly by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board for Scotland, is the second since the standards were established following the commencement of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014.

The SCTS section of the report shows a steep rise in the number of applications for the use of special measures to support victims and witnesses giving evidence in court. The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 extended the availability of such measures and the use of screens and supporters by witnesses has been particularly marked with a threefold increase between 2015 and 2016.

SCTS is committed, along with its justice partners, to improving the experience of victims and witnesses and strives to provide the necessary information, support, facilities and accommodation to meet their needs. In preparing the report, the five justice agencies sought the views of support agencies represented at the Victims Organisations Collaboration Forum Scotland  (VOCFS), chaired by Victim Support Scotland. This provided valuable feedback on the delivery of services and how they might be developed.

As well as working on initiatives emerging from the Standards of Service in the coming 12 months, SCTS is leading on a key development – the Evidence and Procedure Review looking at how evidence is presented in court and how that might be improved for those involved. SCTS is heading the multi-agency approach and a number of concepts have been developed on how to improve the experience of child and vulnerable witnesses when they are required to give evidence in criminal cases.

The Annual Report 2016-17 is available here

The Standards of Service For Victims and Witnesses 2017-18 are available here

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