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right to information
 

The right to information is very important, since only well-informed victims can duly participate in the process and exercise their rights.

Information should be given to the victim in a simple and accessible form, so that he/she may fully understand it.
There is a new law about information for victims and witnesses – this can be found in 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. Normally this should be provided to you without any difficulty and without you having to do anything further. There are some types of information that you may not be able to get and the following points explain that process a bit further.

 

Who can ask for information?
You can ask for information if you are:

  • the victim of the offence or the alleged 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 t
he offence or alleged offence.

 

Who can give me information?
You can get information from:
Police Scotland (Police)
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 - You can ask the Police for information about

  • why the police are not investigating a crime or why they 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 or sheriff 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 COPFS for Information?
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 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

 

What is the Victim Notification Scheme?

If the offender has been sentenced to 18 months or more in prison, the victim can choose whether or not to register with the Victim Notification Scheme.
The scheme has two parts and victims can opt to receive information under either or both parts. Part 1 entitles victims to receive information about the offender's:

  • Release
  • Date of death, if they die before being released
  • Date of transfer, if they are transferred to a place outwith Scotland
  • Eligibility for temporary release (for example, for training and rehabilitation programmes or home leave in preparation for release)
  • Escape or absconding from prison
  • Return to prison for any reason.

Part 2 of the scheme entitles victims to information about the offender being considered either for parole or release on Home Detention Curfew (sometimes known as “tagging”):

  • When the Parole Board for Scotland is due to consider the case affecting the victim, the victim will be given the chance to send written comments to the Board
  • When the Scottish Prison Service is considering a prisoner's release on HDC, the victim will be given the chance to send written comments to the prison service
  • The victim will be told whether the Board recommends or directs the release of the offender
  • The victim will be told whether any conditions have been attached to the licence that relate to them or their family.

 

How do victims register for the scheme?

After sentencing, the Procurator Fiscal (PF) or VIA officer will give you a form that you should complete and send to the Scottish Prison Service if you want to receive this information.

When the offender is due to be released, the Prison Service will send a letter telling you the date of release. The Prison Service cannot give details about an offender’s whereabouts after their release.

If, after registering for the Victim Notification Scheme, you decide to leave the scheme you should write to the Scottish Prison Service to let them know. You should also tell them if you change address.

If you didn't originally join the scheme but then decide you would like to register, you can do this at any time until the offender reaches the point in the sentence when they are due to be released. If the offender is just about to be released, or has already been released, then it will not be possible for you to join the scheme.
You can find out more about the Victim Notification Scheme from the Scottish Prison Service. Contact them on 0131 244 8670.