Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill - Call for evidence

Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill

Remit

The Health and Sport Committee is launching a call for written evidence on 20 February 2013 in order to inform its Stage 1 consideration of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill.

The Justice Committee is leading on consideration of the Bill as a whole but the Health and Sport Committee has been designated as a secondary committee to scrutinise the part of the Bill relating to the establishment of a National Confidential Forum (“NCF”), which is to be set up under the auspices of the Mental Welfare Commission. The Health and Sport Committee will report to the Justice Committee, which will in turn report to the Parliament on the general principles of the Bill.

The Policy Memorandum accompanying the Bill states: “The principal policy objective of this part of the Bill is to offer adults placed in institutional care as children acknowledgement of their experience, including abuse and neglect, through the creation of the National Confidential Forum (NCF). The value of such recognition, in terms of improved health and wellbeing, was evident in the experience of the Pilot Forum, ‘Time to be Heard’ on which the NCF is firmly based.”

As set out in the Memorandum, the NCF’s functions are—

  •  To receive and listen, in confidence, to adults who were in care and to offer acknowledgement of their experiences;
  •  To contribute to the prevention of the future abuse of children in institutional care, via proposals to inform policy and practice;
  •  To contribute to a permanent record of life in care, enhancing public understanding;
  •  To signpost support, advocacy, advice and information services to participants and their families.

The key proposals in the Bill relating to the NCF are—

  •  The functions of the NCF;
  •  Its scope;
  •  How information held by the NCF will be treated by a general duty of confidentiality;
  •  The arrangements for the NCF to be hosted by the Mental Welfare Commission and safeguarding of its “operational autonomy”.

What information is the Committee looking for?

Please address the following aspects of the Bill in your submission:

  •  The functions and powers of the NCF (as set out in the Bill);
  •  Status of the NCF – housed as a sub-committee of the Mental Welfare Commission – and its independence;
  • Support for participants before, during and after their input;
  •  Any other aspects of the NCF.

How to submit your evidence

Before making a submission, please read our Policy on Treatment of Written Evidence by Subject and Mandatory Committees.

Please send your views on the Bill by no later than Tuesday 9 April 2013.

Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to:

[email protected]

Hard copy responses may be sent to:

Health and Sport Committee, T3.60, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP

Ideally, responses should be no more than four sides of A4 in length.

All written evidence received may be published by the Parliament and will be treated as a public document. If you wish to submit evidence in confidence or anonymously please read the policy at the link above or contact Rodger Evans, details below.

What happens next?

The Committee will be taking oral evidence before and after Easter from organisations such as the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Children’s Commissioner, Former Boys and Girls Abused, Victim Support Scotland, the Mental Welfare Commission and Who Cares Scotland. Further selection of witnesses will be informed by written evidence received.

Contact

Should you require alternative formats of this information or further assistance in making a written submission to the Committee, please do not hesitate to contact the clerking team of the Committee.

For Committee information, contact: Rodger Evans, tel 0131 348 5247, email: [email protected]

For further information, the media contact is: Kirsty Rimmer, tel 0131 348 6085 email: [email protected]

For public information enquiries, contact: 0131 348 5000

For general enquiries, contact: 0845 278 1999 (local call rate), email: [email protected]