Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP will chair a dedicated task force set up by the SNP Government to improve victims' experiences of the justice system.
The task force will drive delivery of government commitments to ensure victims' voices are heard, to streamline their journey through the criminal justice system, and to provide wide-ranging support and accessible information through the process. It will hear evidence directly from victims on their experiences of the justice system and membership will include senior decision-makers from justice agencies and voluntary sector partners, including those who directly represent victims.
Mr Yousaf said:
"Crime in Scotland has fallen by more than a third over the last decade, with fewer people becoming victims. However, some crime types such as sexual offences have increased and we must redouble our efforts to ensure that when any victim of crime comes forward they are provided with a consistently high standard of service.
"Since my appointment I have made clear my determination to develop a truly victim-centred approach which will demand coordinated action by justice system partners and victim support organisations. This task force will accelerate progress by maintaining momentum and ensuring accountability, focusing on the improvements that matter most to victims and working together to break down barriers to change."
Kate Wallace, Chief Executive, Victim Support Scotland:
"We strongly believe that a partnership approach is the best way to ensure that everyone affected by crime gets the support they need. It will mean the voices of victims and witnesses are better heard, that we'll be able to develop improved services and create more effective policies. No single organisation has all the answers so bringing together our different perspectives and expertise is essential.
"We appreciate the SNP Government's leadership in this area and are looking forward to playing a key role ourselves in the new task force."
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“While the SNP Government has made significant progress to enhance victims' rights and provide funding for appropriate support, aided by criminal justice agencies, we must go further to ensure the justice system does not exacerbate trauma and distress.
“A key element of our approach are the plans to reduce and, where possible, eliminate the need for victims to have to retell their story to different organisations. Particularly for victims of rape and sexual assault, having to retell and relive the most traumatic experience of their lives can be a barrier to report and often has a long-lasting impact on their wellbeing in addition to the crime itself.
“In line with the SNP Programme for Government 2018/19, we will work to ensure that victims and their families are better informed and supported ahead of prison release arrangements.”
“Furthermore, a new support service for families bereaved by murder and culpable homicide will be established by Spring 2019.”