Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses

Jul 10, 2020

In line with the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014, the Annual Standards of Service Report has been published today, marking the fifth report produced jointly by Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board for Scotland.

The annual report  focuses on the steps taken by each organisation to help victims and witnesses feel supported, safe and informed at every stage of their journey. The importance of ensuring that the standards set continue to be met, challenged and reviewed, is widely recognised and the annual report continues to provide a platform for reflection and future planning.

SCTS Chief Executive, Eric McQueen, said: “We remain committed to improving the lived experiences of victims and witness in their journey through Scotland’s justice system.

“In this year’s report, in addition to commenting on the specific standards we have set, we have highlighted the great strides taken to improve the quality of services to victims and witnesses. In particular, a strong coalition with victims organisations has allowed remarkable milestones to be achieved such as the opening of the Evidence and Hearings Suite in Glasgow, and the Inverness Justice Centre. Both purpose-built sites offer evidence and hearing facilities specially designed to allow vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence at the earliest opportunity, in a supportive and calming environment.

“The Standards of Service reflect our continuous commitment to ensuring that victims and witnesses feel able to give their best evidence and we are dedicated to ensuring that the standards set continue to be met, improved upon and reviewed. As we come through the current coronavirus lockdown, this will become even more important with increasing backlogs and timescales. Hearing the voice of victims and witnesses in helping us design new services will be key.”

The justice agencies are grateful to the members of the Victims Organisations Collaboration Forum Scotland (VOCFS), chaired by Victim Support Scotland for their continued support and for their valuable feedback on the Standards of Service.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Coming into contact with the criminal justice system can be a very challenging and traumatic experience for victims and witnesses. It is therefore vital that we put their needs and rights at the centre of that system, treat them with compassion and make sure they can access timely information and support.

“The coronavirus outbreak has made this more important than ever and we are committed to ensuring that victims continue to be supported, feel reassured and have confidence in the justice system. 

“I therefore welcome the publication of the service standards report, which captures the shared commitment across justice agencies to ensuring the way victims and witnesses are treated is at the core of our approach.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners to make progress, for example through the work of the Victims Taskforce, which aims to enable victims voices to be heard and improve their experiences of the justice system.”

The Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses Annual Report 2019-2020 is available here.

The Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses 2020-2021 is available here.



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