Improving victims' experiences of the justice system: consultation

Closed 19 Aug 2022

Opened 12 May 2022

Feedback updated 28 Apr 2023

We asked

We held a public consultation on improving victims' experiences of the justice system between 12 May 2022 and 19 August 2022. In the consultation we asked for views on potential reforms to empower and protect victims of crime, with particular reference to sexual offences. The proposals in the consultation considered the work of the Victims Taskforce and recommendations from Lady Dorrian’s review into improving the management of sexual offence cases.

You said

The consultation received 69 responses. Of these, 24 were from individuals and 45 from organisations, including victim and witness support organisations, legal organisations, local authority groups, public bodies and law enforcement. There were strong levels of support across the responses for almost all of the proposals. While some proposals attracted a more neutral or mixed response than others, very few were met with a negative response.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation.

We did

We commissioned an independent research company to carry out analysis of the consultation responses and we have published the analysis report  on the Scottish Government website. An easy read summary of the main findings of the analysis has also been published.

We used the responses to the consultation to help inform the Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill that was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 25 April 2023.  

We have published a factsheet where you can read about what the Bill will do.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


The Scottish Government’s new Vision for Justice in Scotland, published in February 2022, sets out our clear and compelling vision for a just, safe and resilient Scotland.

We are committed to a transformational approach to justice reform to ensure the system meets the needs and values of today’s society, and the society we want to see in the future. This means putting people at its heart, redesigning historical processes where they no longer meet our needs and reforming in the interests of better outcomes for those who come into contact with the system.

The Vision sets out the route to a transformed system. Our priorities are focused on delivering person-centred and trauma-informed practices across the justice sector, including taking greater action, in particular, to improve the experiences of women and children and to hear victims’ voices. These issues are particularly relevant to the victims of sexual crime. The Scottish Government is resolute in its commitment to deliver a justice system in which all victims of crime, including the survivors of sexual abuse, can have confidence.

The principles of person-centred and trauma-informed practice underpin our Vision and are central to this consultation, which is part of the extensive programme of work we are progressing to modernise our justice system. The consultation focuses on proposed legislative reforms which aim to strengthen the rights and improve the experiences of victims of crime as they engage with the process of justice. Some proposals apply to the victims of any type of crime while others relate specifically to sexual offence cases.

The consultation supports delivery of our commitment to empower and protect victims of crime through improving justice services, as set out in the Programme for Government 2021-22, and takes forward the work of the Victims Taskforce and recommendations from Lady Dorrian’s Review of the management of sexual offence cases which do, or may, require a legislative underpinning. 

The proposals we are seekng your views on are:

  • establishing a Victims’ Commissioner for Scotland
  • options to underpin a trauma-informed and person-centred approach across the justice system
  • special measures to assist vulnerable parties involved in civil cases
  • review of the requirement for people accused of crimes to provide details of their proposed defence in a statement provided to the court
  • new statutory underpinning for anonymity for complainers in sexual offence cases
  • independent legal representation for sexual offence complainers where request is made to lead evidence in court which relates to their sexual history and/or bad character;
  • the potential establishment of a new specialist criminal court dealing with serious sexual offences
  • consideration of issues relating to single judge trials for serious sexual offence cases

Read the consultation paper 

Why your views matter

It is our intention that any reforms taken forward as a result of this consultation will be a priority for action, including proposed legislation, over the parliamentary session and that these will represent part of a programme of strategic, managed transformation of the justice system.

This consultation provides you with a valuable opportunity to help shape how important changes - which are part of a wider programme of reform - can be delivered in order to ensure that we have a truly person-centred and trauma-informed justice system that the people of Scotland can have confidence in.


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