A Victims and Witnesses Bill is a Programme for Government commitment. It is part of the Scottish Government's programme to create a more efficient justice system and improve public confidence in it.
The Key Proposals are:
•Introducing a victim surcharge so that offenders pay towards the cost of supporting victims – the proposal is it should be applied to court fines only in the first instance but that the legislation should allow for extension to custodial sentences, community sentences and direct measures at a later date.
•Requiring the courts to consider compensation in every case where a victim has suffered injury, loss or distress – currently at the discretion of the court.
•Creating a duty on relevant public agencies to set clear standards of service for victims and witnesses.
•Creating an automatic right to special measures for victims giving evidence in court in cases involving sexual offences and domestic abuse.
•Commissioning a feasibility study into how we can provide much better information for victims and the public about specific cases.
•Improving the way cases are managed so that victims and witnesses can have far greater confidence that, where they are required to give evidence, the case will go ahead on the day as planned.
•Victims should be able to make oral representations to a member of the Parole Board for criminals subject to life sentences.