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Committee supports Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill 03/06/2013 Communications between criminal justice organisations and victims and witnesses must be improved, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

Committee supports Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill

Communications between criminal justice organisations and victims and witnesses must be improved, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The Stage 1 report on the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill reveals that the Committee supports the proposal to establish an online hub to give victims access to information about their individual case but warns this should not replace the vital need for human interaction and support for victims.

The Committee also believes that the police and courts must be appropriately financed and trained to ensure they can actually provide the case-specific information required by the Bill and - in plain written English - to victims and witnesses.

The Committee also recommended that the Scottish Government:

  • Clarifies or removes the section of the Bill that talks of victims and witnesses “participating effectively” in investigations and proceedings.
  • Provides a definition of “victim” on the face of the Bill.
  • Works with the police to improve its capacity to meet the Bill’s right for victims of sexual offences to specify the gender of their interviewer.
  • Clarifies as to where the responsibility lies in relation to establishing the vulnerability of victims and witnesses.
  • Considers whether introducing restitution orders only for police officers and staff and not for other occupations could prove divisive.
     

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