Making the justice system more accessible
Support for victims of crime and vulnerable adults.
An ‘easy read’ version of the Victims’ Code for Scotland has been launched to help victims with communications difficulties understand their rights and improve their experience of the justice system.
The Scottish Government has also awarded £50,000 to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) to develop a speech, language and communication screening tool for use by Appropriate Adults, who help vulnerable individuals with communication difficulties when they are in contact with the police.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Victim Support Scotland in Edinburgh, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“Anyone who has been a victim of crime should have confidence that they will receive the right support and advice through the criminal justice process and the Victims’ Code aims to achieve this.
“We want the code to benefit as many people as possible and the new version has been tested by organisations that support individuals with communication difficulties to ensure it is accessible, helpful and easy to use.
“Providing the right help and information to victims and vulnerable people is central to a modern justice system that is fair, transparent and efficient for all. We have already introduced a range of measures to ensure that those who rely on our justice system have confidence that their voice will be heard and the two measures announced today will further improve that support.”
Chris Creegan, Chief Executive of the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability said:
“It is a tragic reality that far too many people with learning disabilities are victims of crime. Information needs to be accessible and understandable if people with learning disabilities are to fully realise their rights as citizens when this happens. This is why we welcome the publication of this easy read version of the Victims’ Code for Scotland, which should help people exercise choice and control over what happens to them, and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect by those working in our justice system.”
Kim Hartley Kean, Head of the RCSLT Scotland, said:
“It’s estimated at least a quarter of a million Scots have communication difficulties and evidence shows they are more likely than others to be victims, witnesses or accused or crime.
“We are delighted to take up this opportunity to contribute to creating a fairer, more equal and effective justice system for vulnerable people in Scotland. We will work with partners to develop a practical tool to help Appropriate Adults quickly establish an individual’s communication strengths so that the police have a clear understanding of what they need to do to help the individual understand and express themselves during an already challenging experience.”
Access the Easy Read Victims’ Code for Scotland.
Appropriate Adults help to ensure that vulnerable adults are not disadvantaged, in comparison to adults who are not vulnerable, during police procedures. Police procedures can include interviews, identification procedures and forensic examinations.
Significant new measures to improve the rights for Victims and Witnesses were brought in to force through the Victims and Witnesses Act 2014 and the Scottish Government continues to improve support available – most recently by publishing the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Bill and investing in victim support services.