13. This inspection report follows the three principal objectives of The Scottish Strategy for victims:
- Information provision
- Practical and emotional support
- Greater participation
Information provision to victims of crime
14. The Scottish Strategy for Victims (The Strategy) has as one of its principal stated objectives a commitment to offer victims information about both the criminal justice system generally and also the case in which they are involved.
15. This phase examines those incidents which are reported to the police and thereafter do not proceed to a prosecution in court. There are a variety of reasons for this outcome. It may be because either the police or COPFS consider there to be insufficient evidence to establish either the criminal activity or the identity of the perpetrator(s), a non court disposal is issued (such as a Warning or Fixed Penalty issued) or a decision is taken not to take action (eg court prosecution is considered disproportionate or there are mitigating circumstances which make further action inappropriate).
16. Accordingly the range of information available to the victim in this first phase of the inspection process is by definition self limiting.
17. The type of criminal incidents covered in this phase are not those at the extreme end of criminal activity but rather the 'volume' crimes which make up the vast majority of crime to which individuals fall victim 9.
18. Nonetheless this phase covers crucial areas of importance for victims who find themselves in the midst of what is to some people, an alien and confusing criminal justice system. The kind of information envisaged that should be available for victims may include; arrangements for reporting of crime, information about the criminal justice processes, information about what might be required from them in the criminal justice system, information on the progress of the investigation, information on decision making, information about the outcome. Key features of information provision include offering information to all victims, providing a choice about the level of information provision and ensuring the information is of good quality, timely and in a form suitable to the victim's needs.
Practical and emotional support provision for victims of crime
19. The Strategy has as its second principal objective a commitment to provide for the emotional and practical support needs of victims.
20. The Strategy recognises the importance and place of the victim in the Criminal Justice System and also the need to provide practical and emotional support to assist the victim to recover and towards prevention of further crime or secondary victimisation.
21. The objective of The Strategy is to ensure access to provision of such support for victims without them having to seek this out for themselves. The intended outcome is that victims should feel supported throughout the criminal justice processes and indeed afterwards if they so wish. Phase One of the inspection does not deal with cases that result in court proceedings and as such we have not examined the provisions to support victims in the court process and in particular those provisions now available to assist victims attending and giving evidence in court. There are however still substantial areas where the victim may be supported. This support may be of a very practical nature to deal with the immediate after effects of the crime eg security/repairs advice or it may be referral to an appropriate agency for support to assist with longer lasting emotional consequence of the crime.
22. This objective also requires agencies in the criminal justice system to ensure provision of victim awareness training to all staff in contact with victims and more specialist training where appropriate. This is to ensure victims are treated with compassion and respect - the underpinning principles of The Strategy.
Greater participation by victims
23. The third principal objective of The Strategy is to encourage greater participation by victims in the criminal justice system. This objective aims to make it easier for victims to take part in the criminal justice system by ensuring that they are given a voice and that the system is more responsive to their needs. There are two aspects of this objective - to encourage the reporting of crime, which for many various and often complex reasons is significantly under-reported and to facilitate participation by victims in the criminal justice system after reporting and thus encourage confidence in the system. It has always been understood that this is the most difficult objective to quantify or measure its success.
24. The remainder of this report is written under the EFQM headings:
- Policy and Strategy
- Partnership and Resources