The Victims Taskforce will meet on 12 December for the first time to start its work improving support, advice and information for victims of crime.
Co-chaired by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP and Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, head of Scotland's system of criminal prosecution, the taskforce will bring together senior decision-makers from justice agencies, the legal profession, academia and the voluntary sector, including direct representation of victims. Mr Yousaf said:
"While the long-term fall in crime over the last decade means fewer people fall prey to criminals in Scotland, where anyone is a victim it is essential the justice system and wider public services provide the best possible support and advice to them and their loved-ones.
"As part of our work to further improve the experience of victims and witnesses through the justice system, we are investing £17.9 million this year through charities and other agencies working to support victims.
"I am pleased the taskforce will in two weeks to begin its vital work. This will be directly informed by victims' experiences and play a key role in the delivery of our commitments to ensure victims' voices are heard throughout the justice system."
The Lord Advocate added:
"The provision of appropriate and meaningful support to the victims of crime is part of a modern criminal justice system. Prosecutors can only do their job of delivering justice if victims and witnesses are willing to come forward and give evidence.
"The taskforce represents an opportunity to improve the experience of victims, to reassure them that the system will provide support and give them confidence to come forward, speak up and make sure their voices are heard."
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“Being the victim of any kind of crime can be deeply traumatising and it is our duty to ensure the justice system does not exacerbate this.
“Following the appointment of the Chair last month, I am pleased that the first meeting of the Victims Taskforce is set to take place so soon. It can now start improving the way those who have been subjected to crimes experience the justice system.
“The SNP Government takes victim experiences very seriously and its Programme for Government 2018/19 includes a variety of measures in this regard, including:
Reducing and where possible eliminating the need for victims to have to retell their story to different organisations;
Improving the experience of rape and sexual assault victims in the justice system; and
Publishing a Restorative Justice Action Plan by spring 2019, outlining plans to support engagement, where appropriate, between victims and offender.”
Further information about policies and projects to improve the experience for victims and witnesses in Scotland is available at www.gov.scot/policies/victims-and-witnesses/ .