Criminal justice organisations publish guide for victims and witnesses
Today sees the publication of Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses by a number of Scottish criminal justice organisations.
The document explains what victims and witnesses can expect to happen at each stage of the criminal justice process, specific standards of service to expect, and includes how to complain if not satisfied.
Section 2 of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 requires Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board for Scotland to set and publish standards of service for victims and witnesses.
The common standards of service aim to:
Ensure victims and witnesses have fair and equal access to services throughout and are treated with dignity and respect at all times regardless of background, age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, race, nationality, religion, belief or sexual orientation. Where required, additional support will be provided and any reasonable adjustments made to ensure that they have access to information and support services;
Work together and in partnership with victim and witness support organisations to ensure users are provided with the best service possible;
The specific standards from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) aim to:
update users on the progress of the court case at least once per hour and advise them when they can leave the court;
provide separate waiting rooms for prosecution and defence witnesses, and access to refreshments;
meet people giving evidence remotely on the day and explain the process for giving their evidence to court;
respond to requests received on behalf of witnesses, for court familiarisation visits, within 3 working days of receipt; and
direct victims and witnesses to the Witness Service or other support services which are present in the court building when they arrive and need help.