The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014
There is a new law about information for victims and witnesses – this can be found in section 6 of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014.
If you are a victim or witness, you will be able to ask for some information about the case. The following is a guide to help you know who to ask and how.
Who can ask for information?
You can ask for information if you are:
- the victim of the offence or the alleged offence,
- a witness to the offence,
- a person who is going to give evidence about the offence or the alleged offence,
- a person who has given a statement to a police officer or to a prosecutor about the offence or the alleged offence.
- If you are a relative of a victim who has died you may be able to ask for information where the victim’s death has been, or may have been, caused by the offence or alleged offence.
Who can give me information?
You can get information from:
The Scottish Court Service (SCS)
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
What information can I ask for?
You can ask for information about:
- why the police are not investigating the crime or why they have stopped an investigation,
- why COPFS are not taking a case to court,
- what is happening with a case,
- what is happening with a case in court,
- what offence a person has been charged with,
- what decision the judge or sheriff made about the case.
Who should I ask to give me the information?
Different organisations are responsible for keeping different pieces of information about a case:
Police Scotland - You can ask us:
why we are not investigating a crime or why we have stopped an investigation.
COPFS - You can ask the COPFS about:
why COPFS are not taking a case to court- what is happening with a case.
SCS or COPFS - You can ask SCS or COPFS about:
what offences a person has been charged with
SCS - You can ask SCS for information about:
* what is happening with a case in court,
* what decision the Judge, Sheriff or Justice of the Peace made about the case.
What information do I have to provide?
You may have to provide proof of your identity. If you are asking for information on behalf of another person, you will have to provide a note signed by that person giving you their permission to ask for information.
Why might I not get the information I have asked for?
Sometimes it will not be possible to provide you with the information you are asking for. This might be because the information is held in confidence or the organisation who holds the information does not think it is appropriate to give out that information.
The organisation that you have contacted for information will let you know if they are unable to provide that information.
Who do I contact in Police Scotland for information?
Once you have completed the form, which you can print off below, you need to return it to us along with copies of your identification documents to the following address:
You can also email us a scanned copy of your application and forms of identification to this address:
Once we have received your completed application and appropriate identification, we will deal with it as soon as possible and in any event, within 40 days.
If you do not have access to a printer to print these documents you can attend at any police office and we will print them for you.
If you require this information in an alternative format or language please contact us.
Who do I contact in COPFS?
If you are a victim of crime and have been contacted by Victim Information and Advice (VIA) you should telephone the number you have been given.
If you have not been contacted by VIA or are a witness you can contact us at the COPFS enquiry point by email at EnquiryPoint@copfs.gsi.gov.uk, by telephone from a landline on 0844 561 3000 or from a mobile on 01389 739 557
Who do I contact in SCS?
Details relating to the calling of cases, including trials, due to call in the near future, may be found on the Court Rolls on the SCS website at www.scotcourts.gov.uk under Current Business. This includes cases in the High Court of Justiciary, sheriff courts and JP courts.
For further information on how to apply to us please download the guidance and application form below.
A joint protocol has been agreed by Police Scotland, COPFS and SCS and can be downloaded below.
Working Together for Victims and Witnesses – Joint Protocol
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), Police Scotland and Victim Support Scotland (VSS) all recognise the important role that victims and witnesses have in securing effective and efficient justice for the people of Scotland.
As such, we commit to work together to understand and meet victim and witness needs, treating them appropriately, professionally and with respect at all times. We aim to avoid duplication and confusion so that we can improve certainty around the court experience.
In terms of Police Scotland, we will adhere to the standards set out above which includes discussing with victims and witnesses how they will be kept informed of progress in a case and what we may ask them to do to help us. We will also highlight those we assess to be vulnerable to COPFS which will ensure their needs are addressed when they attend Court.
Police Officers are deployed in courts across Scotland and carry out a number of duties there, including proactive and intelligence led patrols. The objective of police deployment within courts is to provide public reassurance, maintain public order and prevent intimidation. If we receive information that there is a risk to the safety of any person attending court, we will liaise with COPFS, SCTS and VSS to ensure that there is a prompt and proportionate response.
Police Scotland, in partnership with Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), Police Scotland and Victim Support Scotland (VSS) continue to recognise the important role that victims and witnesses have in securing effective and efficient justice for the people of Scotland. If we receive information that there is a risk to the safety of any person attending court, we will liaise with COPFS, SCTS and VSS to ensure that there is a prompt and proportionate response.
This newly revised Protocol continues to focus on providing best practice and consistency of approach to improve victims and witness engagement and support.
If you want to read the Joint Protocol in its entirety you can view it by clicking on the pdf document Working Together for Victims and Witnesses at the bottom of this page .
Additional information is available on the www.mygov.scot Crime and Justice section, including information of after your police interview, the media and after the verdict.