When you are affected by crime in Scotland, you have rights. The Victims’ Code for Scotland sets these out. It also tells you where you can go for help and advice.
What rights do you have?
The right to a minimum standard of service
You should get fair and equal treatment from all criminal justice organisations involved in your case. You have a right to a certain standard of service, regardless of who you are. The standard of service you should expect at each stage of the criminal justice process is set out within the Standards of Service.
The right to get information
Authorities working on your case will give you updates if you ask for them. They will also help you understand which information you can have, and how you can get it. For example, if your case is not prosecuted, you have the right to be told the reasons why, and to request a review of this decision.
The right to be involved
You have a right to understand what is happening and be understood, such as through an interpreter. For some crimes, you can also ask to be interviewed by police officers of a particular gender, where possible. The court and prison service will take your views into account. For some crimes you have the right to provide a victim statement to the court. This gives you the chance to tell the court, in your own words, how the crime has affected you physically, emotionally or financially. If you are eligible to provide a victim statement, our VIA staff will contact you. The court can then take your experiences into account when passing sentence. You may also gain input into prison release decisions. See the link below to find out more about the Victim Notification Scheme.
The right to be protected
You should be protected from harm and the threat of harm when you report crime and when it goes to court. In some cases, the court will also restrict media reporting or set bail conditions for accused persons to follow.
The right to support
Free, confidential support will be available to you from organisations helping victims. See the link below for a list. There is a range of options available to help vulnerable persons give evidence at trial. These are called special measures. Further information about special measures can be found here. If you are eligible for special measures, our VIA staff will contact you to arrange those. If you have any concerns about attending court to give evidence, please call our Enquiry Point on 0300 020 3000.
The right to compensation and expenses
You have the right to claim back certain expenses due to attending court. If the accused person is found guilty, the court may also order the payment of compensation. If you had property taken from you during the case, it will normally be returned afterward. Sometimes, the police need to hold onto important pieces of evidence.
The right to get in touch or make a complaint
The Code lists many different organisations in Scotland that offer help to victims. Each one offers specialist advice about the rights that involve them. If you think your rights have been breached, each criminal justice organisation has a complaints procedure. Visit their website for details.
Find out more at MyGov.Scot: After a crime: your rights in Scotland
Organisations who can help
You may want to talk to someone about your rights as a victim. You might want to find out more about the Code. Or you may be worried that your rights have not been respected in a case that affects you.
You can get help from the organisations below. Click through for more on what victims can expect: