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Scottish Government launches consultation on improving the experience of victims in the justice system with a focus on sexual offences, the engagement exercise is running in parallel with a similar plan already underway by the Conservatives

By Scott Maclennan

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Cabinet Secretary for Justice Keith Brown.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Keith Brown.

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on improving the experience of victims in the justice system, focussing particularly on sexual offences.

The 12-week consultation is part of a wide-ranging programme of work to transform the justice system and deliver the government’s new Vision for Justice in Scotland including creating a Victims’ Commissioner and establishing anonymity for complainers in sexual offence cases.

It also seeks views on special measures to assist vulnerable parties in civil cases; independent legal representation for sexual offence complainers; the potential establishment of a specialist sexual offences court; and consideration of the issues relating to single judge trials for serious sexual offence cases.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “The Scottish Government recognises that the justice system can be distressing and re-traumatising for those who come into contact with it.

“We are committed to improving victims’ experiences of the system by putting them at its centre. This consultation explores how to do this by making the justice system more trauma-informed and person-centred.

“It is an important part of far-reaching and ambitious plans to bring about transformational change necessary to ensure our justice system is trusted, modern, smart and effective.”

The Scottish Conservatives launched a consultation for its Victims Law last December, which also aims to put victims of crime at the heart of Scotland’s justice system.

The Victims Law would make major changes to the justice system, including: abolishing the Not Proven verdict and giving victims a voice when criminals are considered for release.

It would also prevent the release of killers if they refuse to say where a victim’s body is located, give all victims the opportunity to make statements in court and ensure victims are notified if no further action is taken on their case.

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