Victims

Supporting victims of crime

from the fifth review of Crime and Justice in Scotland 2010.


“Over the past several years there has been increasing recognition of the important role
victims play in the criminal justice system and the requirement to provide support mechanisms
that take their needs and concerns into account.
In Scotland steps to improve services for victims have been guided by the general principles set
out in the Scottish Strategy for Victims (2001). These principles include ensuring the availability
of emotional and practical support, information about the criminal justice process and progress
with the individual cases as well as providing for increased participation in the criminal justice
system by victims.23”

Footnote:

23 Box 5:1 Victims and the criminal justice system – at page 66, 2009/10 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: Main Findings.
(2010) Leon Page, Pat MacLeod, Andrea Kinver, Aibek Iliasov and Patricia Yoon, TNS-BMRB. Scottish Government Social
Research, published in November 2010.

Online resources for victims of crime

Victim Support Scotland

Victims of Crime in Scotland

The European Commission has a web page outlining its views on victims’ rights

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey therefore examined aspects of support and advice.
Published in November 2010, the survey found that:

 

  • 90% of victims said that they or another household member did not need or want any support or advice.
  • Victims received advice and support in 6% of crime, but 9% would have liked to have received advice and support.
  • Advice and support was received in 9% of violent crime and 5% of property crime.
  • Victims would have liked advice and support for 17% of violent crime and 6% of property crime.
  • Where advice and support was provided by police liaison officers, 72% of victims were satisfied, while 10% reported dissatisfaction.
  • Where advice and support was provided by Victim Support Scotland, 67% of victims were satisfied, while 1% reported dissatisfaction.

The charity Victim Support Scotland is a member of SCCCJ and is currently involved in support for the development of the forthcoming EU Crime Victims Directive.

The aim of the directive is to establish minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.

 

Further information from the fourth annual review of crime and justice in Scotland:

“The important place of victims in the criminal justice system is recognised, as is the requirement to provide support mechanisms that take their needs and concerns into account.”[1] The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey therefore examined aspects of support and advice.  Published in October 2009, the survey found that:

  • 85% of victims said that they or another household member did not need or want any support or advice
  • Victims would have liked advice and support for two in ten violent crimes (21%) and one in ten property crimes (10%)
  • Victims received advice and support in 8% of crime, but 13% would have liked to have received advice and support
  • Advice and support was received in 14% of violent crime and 6% of property crime
  • In 4% of crime victims received help and support from police liaison officers with a satisfaction rating of 79%
  • In 2% of crime victims received support from Victim Support Scotland with a 72% satisfaction rating
  • The majority of victims were satisfied with the help and support received

 

Elsewhere in this review we take a closer look at the impact of imprisonment on families (children and parents) who are unintended victims of criminal behaviour by offenders.

 

Several  pieces of legislation were proposed during 2009, which could have wide ranging impacts for the victims of crime.

 

1. The Scottish Government published the consultation Wider Choice and Better Protection [2] in January 2009 to consult on proposed changes to the regulation of legal services in Scotland and on 30th September 2009 introduced the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill [3]. This allows solicitors to establish businesses with non-solicitors. For victims of crime, this would mean that they would be able to access many different services through the same service provider.

 

2. The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, introduced in the Scottish Parliament, contains provisions that impacts on victims (for example):

  • Witness anonymity orders – introducing the possibility for witnesses to give anonymous witness statements
  • Assistance to victim support – introduces regulations to make funds available for victim services
  • Compensation orders – courts are able to make a compensation order, requiring the convicted person to pay compensation in favour of the victim or the person who is liable for funeral expenses

 

3. Victim’s Commissioner (Scotland) Bill – This was introduced by David Stewart MSP and proposes the introduction of a Victim Commissioner [4]. The bill was consulted upon and a debate was held in the Scottish Parliament.

 

4. Independent Review of Sheriff and Jury Procedure – A review is currently underway regarding the experience of witnesses who take part in Sheriff and Jury Proceedings [5].

 

5. The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 received royal accent 14 July 2009 [6]. The Act, among other things, introduced a statutory definition of rape and consent. It also gave a list of situations where consent should be seen as absent, for instance if the victim was drunk.

 

 


[1] (page 5) 2008/09 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: First Findings.(2009) Pat MacLeod, Leon Page, Andrea Kinver and Aibek Iliasov, TNS-BMRB; Mandy Littlewood and Rachel Williams. Scottish Government Social Research, published in October 2009.

[3] http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/30-legalServices/b30s3-introd.pdf

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