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VICTIMS AND WITNESSES (SCOTLAND) ACT 2014

Acts of the Scottish Parliament

Version 31/05/2016

2014 asp 1

Default Geographical Extent: S


  • General principles
  • Standards of service
  • Complaints
  • Provision of information to victims
  • Provision of support to victims
  • Assistance to communicate
  • Acknowledgement of complaints
  • Reimbursement of expenses
  • Return of property
  • Offences committed in another Member State
  • Rules: review of decision not to prosecute
  • Restorative justice (P)
  • Disclosure of information
  • Interviews
  • Medical examinations (P)
  • Criminal investigations
  • Protection of victims
  • Vulnerable witnesses
  • Victim statements
  • Sentencing
  • Release of offender: victim's rights
  • Child victims
  • Deceased victims
  • National Confidential Forum
  • Version 31/05/2016
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  • Version as enacted

Introductory Text

Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014

2014 asp 1

The Bill for this Act of the Scottish Parliament was passed by the Parliament on 12th December 2013 and received Royal Assent on 17th January 2014

An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for certain rights and support for victims and witnesses, including provision for implementing Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and the Council; and to make provision for the establishment of a committee of the Mental Welfare Commission with functions relating to persons who were placed in institutional care as children.

General principles


1 General principles

(1) Each person mentioned in subsection (2) must have regard to the principles mentioned in subsection (3) in carrying out functions conferred on the person by or under any enactment in so far as those functions relate to a person who is or appears to be a victim or witness in relation to a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings.

(2) The persons are—

(a) the Lord Advocate,
(b) the Scottish Ministers,
(c) the chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland,
(d) the Scottish Court Service,
(e) the Parole Board for Scotland.
(3) The principles are—

(a) that a victim or witness should be able to obtain information about what is happening in the investigation or proceedings,
(b) that the safety of a victim or witness should be ensured during and after the investigation and proceedings,
(c) that a victim or witness should have access to appropriate support during and after the investigation and proceedings,
(d) that, in so far as it would be appropriate to do so, a victim or witness should be able to participate effectively in the investigation and proceedings.
(4) The Scottish Ministers may by order modify subsection (2).

(5) An order under subsection (4) is subject to the affirmative procedure.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I1 S. 1 in force at 30.1.2015 by S.S.I. 2014/359, art. 2, Sch.


[F1 1A. Further general principles applicable to victims

(1) Each person mentioned in section 1(2) must have regard to the principles mentioned in subsection (2) in carrying out functions conferred on the person by or under any enactment in so far as those functions relate to a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings.

(2) The principles are—

(a) that victims should be treated in a respectful, sensitive, tailored, professional and non-discriminatory manner,
(b) that victims should, as far as is reasonably practicable, be able to understand information they are given and be understood in any information they provide,
(c) that victims should have their needs taken into consideration,
(d) that, when dealing with victims who are children, the best interests of the child should be considered, taking into account the child’s age, maturity, views, needs and concerns, and
(e) that victims should be protected from—
(i) secondary and repeat victimisation,
(ii) intimidation, and
(iii) retaliation.
(3) In this section, “child” means a person under 18 years of age.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F1 S. 1A inserted (23.12.2015) by The Victims' Rights (Scotland) Regulations 2015 (S.S.I. 2015/444), regs. 1(2), 2


Standards of service


2 Standards of service

(1) Each person mentioned in subsection (2) must set and publish standards in relation to—

(a) the carrying out of the functions of the person mentioned in subsection (3) in relation to a person who is or appears to be a victim or witness in relation to a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings,
(b) the person's procedure for making and resolving complaints about the way in which the person carries out those functions.
(2) The persons are—

(a) the Lord Advocate,
(b) the Scottish Ministers,
(c) the chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland,
(d) the Scottish Court Service,
(e) the Parole Board for Scotland.
(3) The functions are—

(a) in the case of the Lord Advocate, functions relating to the investigation and prosecution of crime,
(b) in the case of the Scottish Ministers, functions relating to prisons and young offenders institutions and persons detained in them,
(c) in the case of any other person mentioned in subsection (2) , any functions.
(4) Before a person mentioned in subsection (2) (“the publisher”) publishes standards under subsection (1) , the publisher must consult—

(a) every other person mentioned in subsection (2) , and
(b) such other persons as appear to the publisher to have a significant interest in the standards.
(5) The Scottish Ministers may by order—

(a) modify subsection (2) ,
(b) so far as is necessary or expedient in consequence of any modification made under paragraph (a) , modify subsection (1) , (3) or (6).
(6) In this section— “prison” and “young offenders institution” have the meanings given by section 307(1) of the 1995 Act, “victim” includes a prescribed relative of a victim.

(7) In subsection (6) , “prescribed” means prescribed by the Scottish Ministers by order.

(8) An order under subsection (5) is subject to the affirmative procedure.

(9) An order under subsection (6) is subject to the negative procedure.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I2 S. 2 in force at 13.8.2014 for specified purposes by S.S.I. 2014/210, art. 2, Sch.

I3 S. 2 in force at 30.1.2015 in so far as not already in force by S.S.I. 2014/359, art. 2, Sch. (with art. 3)


3 Reports

(1) This section applies where a person publishes standards under section 2(1).

(2) The person must prepare and publish a report in relation to the matters mentioned in subsection (3) —

(a) before the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which standards are first published under section 2(1) , and
(b) as soon as practicable following—
(i) the expiry of the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which a report is published under paragraph (a) , and
(ii) each subsequent period of a year.
(3) The matters are—

(a) an assessment of how, and the extent to which, the standards have been met during the period of the report,
(b) an explanation of how the person intends to meet the standards during the year after the period of the report,
(c) a description of any modification of the standards made during the period of the report, and
(d) a description of any modification of the standards that the person proposes to make during the year after the period of the report.
(4) The Scottish Ministers may by regulations prescribe information (in addition to that required under subsection (3) ) that reports prepared under subsection (2) must contain.

(5) Regulations under subsection (4) are subject to the negative procedure.

Annotations:

Commencement Information

I4 S. 3 in force at 30.1.2015 by S.S.I. 2014/359, art. 2, Sch.


[F2 Complaints


Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F2 S. 3A and cross-heading inserted (23.12.2015) by The Victims Rights (Scotland) Regulations 2015 (S.S.I. 2015/444), regs. 1(2), 3


3A. Complaints

(1) A competent authority must provide a complaints process by which a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence, may challenge—

(a) an alleged breach by that competent authority of that person’s rights under this Act, or
(b) an alleged breach of that competent authority’s obligations under this Act.
(2) The obligation in subsection (1) does not apply where the competent authority is subject to a complaints process, provided in or under any enactment, which would allow a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence to challenge the matters in subsection (1) (a) and (b).]

[F3 Provision of information to victims


Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F3 Ss. 3B-3D and cross-headings inserted (23.12.2015) by The Victims' Rights (Scotland) Regulations 2015 (S.S.I. 2015/444), regs. 1(2), 4


3B. The Victims’ Code for Scotland

(1) The Scottish Ministers must prepare and publish a document, known as the Victims’ Code for Scotland, setting out the following information (or directing the reader as to where that information is set out) —

(a) the types of support that victims may obtain and from whom that support can be obtained,
(b) the procedures for making complaints with regard to a criminal offence and the victim’s role in connection with such procedures,
(c) how and under what conditions victims may obtain protection, including special measures under sections 271 to 271M of the 1995 Act and measures under section 9C of this Act,
(d) how and under what conditions victims may access legal advice, legal aid or any other sort of advice which the Scottish Ministers consider relevant to the needs of victims,
(e) how and under what conditions victims may obtain compensation,
(f) how and under what conditions victims are entitled to interpretation and translation,
(g) in relation to a criminal offence which was not committed in Scotland, any measures, procedures or arrangements, which are available to protect victims’ interests in Scotland,
(h) the available procedures for making complaints against any competent authority in relation to a breach of victims’ rights under this or any other enactment,
(i) the contact details for all competent authorities,
(j) the available restorative justice services, and
(k) how and under what conditions victims may be reimbursed for the reasonable expenses incurred by them as a result of their participation in criminal proceedings.
(2) The Victims’ Code for Scotland may include such other information as the Scottish Ministers consider relevant to the needs of victims.

(3) Subsection (4) applies where—

(a) a competent authority, other than the Scottish Ministers, receives a request for translation of the Victims’ Code for Scotland by virtue of section 3F and transmits that request to the Scottish Ministers, or
(b) a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence, and who does not understand or speak English, requests that the Scottish Ministers translate the Victims’ Code for Scotland into a language which that person understands.
(4) The Scottish Ministers must—

(a) translate the Code into the language required by the authority or, as the case may be, the person, and
(b) provide a copy of the translated Code to the authority or, as the case may be, the person.
(5) The Scottish Ministers must keep the Victims’ Code for Scotland under review and may modify it from time to time.

(6) Where under subsection (5) the Scottish Ministers modify the Victims’ Code for Scotland they must publish the modified Code.

3C. Victims’ right to receive information

(1) The chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland must ensure that, as soon as reasonably practicable after a constable identifies a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence, a constable informs the person that the person may request, from any competent authority—

(a) a copy of the Victims’ Code for Scotland, and
(b) information relating to the rights of victims.
(2) Subsection (3) applies where a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence requests from a competent authority a copy of the Victims’ Code for Scotland.

(3) As soon as reasonably practicable after the request is made, the authority must—

(a) provide the person with a copy of the Code, or
(b) advise the person where a copy of the Code may be obtained.
(4) Subsection (5) applies where a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence requests from a competent authority information relating to the rights of victims.

(5) As soon as reasonably practicable after the request is made, the authority must—

(a) provide the person with such information held by, or accessible to, the authority which the authority considers relevant to the request, and
(b) provide the person with contact details for any other competent authority which the authority considers may hold or be able to access information relevant to the request.
(6) Where, by virtue of this section, a competent authority is to provide a person with a copy of the Victim’s Code for Scotland or information relating to the rights of victims, the authority may do so by such means as the authority considers appropriate having regard to the needs of the person.

(7) For the purposes of this section—

(a) a request made by a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence to a constable or a member of police staff is deemed to be a request made to the chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland, and
(b) a request made by a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence to a procurator fiscal is deemed to be a request made to the Lord Advocate.

Provision of support to victims


3D. Referral to providers of victim support services

(1) The chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland must ensure that, as soon as reasonably practicable after a constable identifies a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence, a constable informs the person that—

(a) the person may request a referral to providers of victim support services from any competent authority, and
(b) the person may contact providers of victim support services directly without referral.
(2) Where a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence makes a request of a competent authority to be referred to providers of victim support services, the authority must, subject to the views of the person—

(a) disclose the person’s details to such providers of victim support services as the authority considers appropriate to the person’s needs, or
(b) provide the person with the name, address and telephone number of the providers of victim support services referred to in paragraph (a).
(3) Subsections (1) and (2) apply in relation to a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence regardless of whether or not the person has made a complaint about that offence or alleged offence.

(4) For the purposes of this section—

(a) a request made by a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence to a constable or a member of police staff is deemed to be a request made to the chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland, and
(b) a request made by a person who is or appears to be a victim in relation to an offence or alleged offence to a procurator fiscal is deemed to be a request made to the Lord Advocate.
(5) In this section, “victim support services” means the provision of—

(a) information, advice and support to victims including information on compensation for criminal injuries, and the participation of victims in criminal proceedings,
(b) information about any relevant specialist support services in place,
(c) emotional and, where available, psychological support,
(d) advice relating to financial and practical issues arising from the crime,
(e) advice relating to the risk and prevention of—
(i) secondary and repeat victimisation,
(ii) intimidation, and
(iii) retaliation, and
(f) such other services as a competent authority considers appropriate to the needs of victims.]

[F4 Assistance to communicate


Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F4 Ss. 3E, 3F and cross-heading inserted (23.12.2015) by The Victims' Rights (Scotland) Regulations 2015 (S.S.I. 2015/444), regs. 1(2), 5