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Court visits make it easier for victims to deal with justice system


Charity provides victims and families with court visits to help ease stress and anxiety

Minister for victimes and community safety Siobhian Brown visited Edinburgh Sheriff Court as part of Victim Support Scotland’s Victims’ Awareness Week.

The court visit is one of the many services VSS provides to anyone who is affected by crime in Scotland.

The visits help prepare victims and witnesses of crime ahead of giving evidence or attending court by showing them around the room, demonstrating how special measures for vulnerable witnesses - such as witness screens and other protective measures work - and explaining who will be in the room and where.

In-person visits can be facilitated alongside accessing 360-degree tours of all courts in Scotland on VSS website.

The minister heard from a victim of crime, a volunteer, and staff members about the traumatic impact of giving evidence.

Brown, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that victims affected by crime get all the support they need. 

“It was a privilege to hear first-hand from people going through the criminal justice system about their experiences. Sitting in the witness box helps me as minister for victims to understand the emotional, psychological and physical impact of giving evidence.

“It is important that victims are made aware of, and understand, their rights and know how to access the range of support that is available.

“The victims’ code for Scotland sets out these rights and who to contact for help and advice.

Latest data shows that 10,352 people contacted the charity’s free helpline with around 48,600 support sessions and other forms of assistance delivered by VSS in 2022-23.

Everyone has a legal right to support if they are a victim or witness of crime, as do their family members.

To help spread this message and ensure no one who is affected by crime in Scotland falls through the cracks, Victim Support Scotland is raising public awareness of victims’ rights and the services they are entitled to.

Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: “When someone is affected by crime, it can have a massive impact on their life, affecting them emotionally, mentally, physically, financially and practically. It can be very traumatic, so having the right information at the right time is critical.

“In Scotland, anyone affected by crime has a right to support and information, regardless of whether the crime was reported to the police or not. While not everyone affected by crime will want to exercise these rights, there is a significant gap between the number of crimes recorded and the number of people referred to and seeking support.

“By working closely with Police Scotland, victim support organisations, and directly with victims, we hope to raise more awareness of victims’ rights and reach more people in the year ahead. We want everyone to know that if they or someone they know is affected by crime, Victim Support Scotland can help.”

In addition to providing support, VSS also uses the experiences and voices of victims and has welcomed aspects of the Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill.



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