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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Hearing the voices of those who have experienced crime

 

Victim Support Scotland chief executive Kate Wallace on the charity's new campaign

We have launched our latest campaign, Mind My Voice, to highlight the untold stories of people who have come through crime.

The campaign, which marks Victims’ Awareness Week, focuses on the theme of ‘hidden victims’ and tells the real-life stories of people who have experienced a number of different crimes.

Every year in Scotland over 50% of crimes go unreported, with many people affected unsure that a crime has even been committed against them, and fearing that they may not be taken seriously by the authorities.

Kate Wallace.

We feel strongly that people should feel confident to come forward and speak about crime, and therefore during this week we have highlighted several case studies through voice recordings, highlighting the emotional impact these crimes can have. Through listening to the voices of people affected by crime, it is hoped this will encourage others to report incidents to the police as well as having the confidence to ensure their voices are also heard.

This week we have also launched a language guide titled Mind My Experience at an event featuring the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Keith Brown.

We were compelled to create the guide to encourage anyone who may be in contact with a person affected by crime to use sensitive and appropriate language and be mindful of the trauma victims have experienced. Working alongside people affected by crime for over 30 years, we have become acutely aware of how re-traumatisation can affect the people we support, not only through the criminal justice system, but through language.

Scotland wide, there is a move towards trauma-informed practice, which means organisations are adapting how they deliver services to become more sensitive to what has happened to the people they support.

This guide is part of a programme of work that is now underway by VSS, to becoming a fully trauma-informed organisation.

The document was originally developed for colleagues at Police Scotland as part of our aims to ensure consistent police referrals into their services. We have since consulted with people impacted by crime through our lived experience reference group, and with partners and stakeholders in the Scottish Government and wider justice sector, to develop the guide further.

Examples of preferred language that is in the guide include the use of ‘move forward’, an empowering term which acknowledges what people have experienced, and shows the positive outcome of the work they put in themselves.

The guide also encourages professionals to avoid using the word ‘evidence’ when referring to the body of a loved one, instead opting to use the person’s name, as this can help to avoid re-traumatisation.

As an organisation, we have many future aspirations for the guide, including continuing to work with people affected by crime, partners and stakeholders to ensure the guide is as up to date and trauma-informed as possible.

The guide is an evolving document and we welcome any additional comments to be added into the document as our trauma-informed work continues.

You can view the language guide by clicking here. If you have been the victim of a crime, and are needing emotional support, Victim Support Scotland is here for you. You can get in touch through our helpline on: 0800 160 1985 or through the online chat on our website: victimsupport.scot.

Kate Wallace is chief executive of Victim Support Scotland.

 

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