Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill

 

Stage 1 scrutiny by the Justice Committee

Background

The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Parliament on 6 February 2013.

The Bill’s aims are to put victims’ interests at the heart of on-going improvements to the justice system and to ensure that witnesses are able to fulfil their public duty effectively. It implements EU Directive 2012/29/EU in relation to minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, which was adopted in October 2012.

As lead committee, the Justice Committee is considering the victims and witnesses provisions in the Bill, which include:

(a) creating a duty on relevant justice organisations to set clear standards of service for victims and witnesses;
(b) giving victims and witnesses a right to certain information about their case;
(c) measures dealing with vulnerable witnesses, including a right for them to access certain special measures when giving evidence; 
(d) requiring the court to consider compensation to victims in certain cases; and
(e) introducing a victim surcharge and restitution orders, so that offenders contribute to the cost of supporting victims.

The Bill also establishes a National Confidential Forum to give an opportunity for adults who were placed in institutional care as children to recount their experiences, including abuse, in a confidential, non-judgmental and supportive setting. The Health and Sport Committee has been appointed as secondary committee to consider those provisions relating to the National Confidential Forum.

Evidence

Written evidence

The Committee issued a call for written evidence on 19 February 2013. The deadline for submissions was midday on Tuesday 9 April 2013.

Read the call for evidence

Read the news release

Read the written submissions received

Oral evidence

The Committee will take oral evidence on the Bill at its meetings on 16, 23 and 30 April and 14 May.

Correspondence

Report

The Committee published its Stage 1 Report to the Scottish Parliament on Monday 3 June 2013.

Debate

Consideration of the Bill at Stage 1 concluded with the debate in the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament on 19 June 2013.

Additional Information

At its meeting on 12 March 2013, the Committee agreed to hold an informal round-table discussion with victims and witnesses about their experiences of the criminal justice system. The discussion, which took place on 26 March, aimed to inform Members in advance of the formal evidence taking sessions on the Bill during April and May.

The Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People conducted and submitted to the Committee a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment on the Bill.

 
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