Date lodged: 20 November 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to improve communication with victims during sexual crimes investigations, in particular the frequency of contact by the Victim Information and Advice service.
Answered by: James Wolffe QC 5 December 2017
Earlier this year the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service introduced a new Victim Strategy.
Since September 2017, all Victim Information Advice (VIA) staff who work on High Court sexual offences cases have a geographic responsibility, and accordingly a responsibility for liaison with victims within their area.
All victims should be contacted by VIA within 24 hours of the accused appearing in court to advise them of the outcome and to confirm if the accused has been remanded in custody or liberated on bail with conditions. The Service has now introduced a commitment to make further contact with victims within 7 days of an accused appearing on petition, where the accused has been remanded in custody, and 21 days where the accused has been liberated on bail.
The Service is currently working with Rape Crisis and others to examine how it can better obtain feedback from victims and use that information to improve the support provided to victims in the justice system.
The Inspectorate of Prosecution recently published a thematic report on the investigation and prosecution of sexual crime. That report made recommendations for improving the communication with victims during sexual crimes investigations. COPFS has accepted all of those recommendations.