Update 12 January 2021

Witnesses cited to attend either the Sheriff Court for a summary trial or the Justice of the Peace Court for a summary trial from tomorrow, Tuesday 12 January, should not attend unless they are contacted directly by the Crown office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) [link to]

Witnesses cited to appear for a High Court or Sheriff Court Solemn trial should continue to do so.  Courts are set up to provide a safe environment for witnesses – and support the administration of justice in relation to the most serious criminal cases.

Guidance for SCTS court and tribunal users during Coronavirus 11.1.21

Appearing as a witness during coronavirus

Giving evidence at any time can be a difficult and traumatic experience, and the current pandemic may increase your concerns. To support witnesses, the SCTS has created a short film to help explain what appearing in court now feels like, and the safety measures that are in place. 

The witness video was produced for jury trials, which now proceed at jury centres, but witnesses in cases that don’t proceed with a jury may also find the video an useful source ahead of attending court.

You can also read our specific guidance on how we are keeping our court and tribunal buildings safe, secure and clean during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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.



Standards of Service

Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses Annual Report 2019-2020 

Standards of Service 2016-17

Standards of Service 2017-18

Standards of Service 2018-19

Standards of Service 2019-20

Standards of Service 2020-21

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.

Right-hand Menu

Find and contact your court