Call for evidence on the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is seeking views on the general principles of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill. A copy of the Bill and accompanying Policy Memorandum and Explanatory Notes can be found at:

The Bill was introduced to the Parliament on 6 February 2013. The Justice Committee is examining sections 1 to 25 of the Bill relating to victims and witnesses. Any written submissions in relation to victims and witnesses should therefore be directed to the Justice Committee.

The Health and Sport Committee is examining sections 26 and 27 of the Bill relating to the establishment of a National Confidential Forum; therefore, any written submissions on these sections should be submitted to that Committee. 

The Bill’s aims: victims and witnesses

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. The Bill 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.

The Justice Committee is particularly interested in hearing your views in relation to:

(1) the proposal to create a duty on relevant justice organisations to set clear standards of service for victims and witnesses; 
(2) the proposal to give victims and witnesses a right to certain information about their case; 
(3) the proposal to give vulnerable witnesses a right to access certain special measures when giving evidence; 
(4) the proposal to require the court to consider compensation to victims in certain cases; 
(5) the proposal to introduce a victim surcharge and restitution orders, so that offenders contribute to the cost of supporting victims; 
(6) any human rights implications arising from the victims and witnesses provisions in the Bill.

Further details on the Bill are contained in the Policy Memorandum and Explanatory Notes.

Justice Committee consideration

The Justice Committee expects to consider written submissions and to take evidence during April and May, before reporting on the Bill’s general principles towards the start of June 2013.

The Justice Committee invites all interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence on the victims and witnesses provisions in the Bill.

All submissions to the Justice Committee should be provided by no later than midday on Tuesday 9 April 2013. Please indicate on your submission if you are also interested in providing oral evidence.

How to submit written evidence

Before making a submission, please read the Parliament’s policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees.

Written submissions should normally be limited to around 4 sides of A4. Longer submissions should be accompanied by a short summary of the main points. Submissions should be set out in numbered paragraphs. Where the submission refers to existing published material, it is preferable to provide hyperlinks or full citations (rather than extensive extracts).

Anyone wishing their evidence to be treated confidentially should contact the Justice Committee clerking team at the email address or phone number below before submitting their evidence. It will then be for the Committee to decide whether or not to accept the submission on the basis that it will not be published (though it will be seen in full by the Committee). However, the Parliament is required to consider requests for information under freedom of information legislation and we are therefore unable to guarantee that the evidence will never be released.

The Committee welcomes written evidence in English, Gaelic or any other language. If possible, written submissions should be submitted electronically (preferably in word processing format i.e. Microsoft Word or Apple Pages) by email to:

[email protected]

Hard copy written submissions should be sent to:
Justice Committee
Room T2.60
Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

Any queries about written submissions should be addressed in the first instance to the Justice Committee clerking team at the above email address or (0131) 348 5220.

Related links

Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill

Justice Committee

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