Leaflet for witnesses

Witnesses in Scotland

If you have been called to appear at court as a witness in either a civil or criminal court case you may find the website Victim Support helpful.

Witnesses for the prosecution

The Crown Office and Prosecutor Fiscal Service provide information for prosecution witnesses, in some instances through the Victim Information and Advice unit.

Victim Support Scotland

Offers support to victims and witnesses of crime. Find your nearest victim and witness support service or contact:

Scottish Helpline

0800 160 1985
Mon - Fri 08:00 - 20:00

Obtaining information

The central objective of the Victim and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) is to improve the experience of victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system in Scotland. One of the key provisions is that victims and witnesses have a legal right to request certain information about the case in which they are involved. The Act specifies different types of information which can be requested. A protocol (below) has been drawn up by Police Scotland, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), as a guide for persons who wish information, to decide which organisation to ask, how to ask and what information you may be given. The protocol also contains styles of request form which may be used.

Vulnerable Witnesses

Witnesses who are deemed 'vulnerable' in accordance with the Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004, such as children under 18 or vulnerable adults, may be entitled to special measures when they give evidence in court.

If you think that you may be a vulnerable witness, you should discuss this with the person citing you in a case. This will usually be a lawyer or the Procurator Fiscal who is prosecuting the case. They will discuss your circumstances with you and whether it is appropriate to make an application to the court for you to use special measures. If the person who is citing you as a witness considers that you may be regarded as a vulnerable witness, they will usually discuss this with you, or arrange for a suitable person to discuss this with you.

Giving Evidence by TV links

Certain witnesses, on application, may be able give their evidence from another part of the court building or from a completely different location. If you are considering citing a witness for whom a live TV link would be appropriate you should consider this protocol and contact the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Electronic Services Delivery Unit at the earliest opportunity.

Evidence Taken by a Commissioner

This is the evidence of a witness recorded in advance of a trial so that the person does not need to appear in court. The witness is questioned by both the prosecution and the defence in a way that they can understand. This is done before a ‘commissioner’ who is a judge. The practice is used most often for vulnerable or child witnesses. It usually takes place in a suitable room in a court building such as a witness room.

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