Victims Taskforce To Meet For First Time

25 November 2018, 08:09 | Updated: 25 November 2018, 08:17

Humza Yousaf

A taskforce set up to ensure the justice system does not worsen "trauma and distress" of crime victims is to meet for the first time next month.

Co-chaired by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, the group will take evidence from victims on their experiences of accessing justice.

It aims to provide support and information, and make their progress through the system easier.

The meeting comes as campaigners call for the creation of a victims' commissioner to help people hit by crime.

The family of Shaun Woodburn, who died after being attacked by a teenager outside a pub in the Leith area of Edinburgh in the early hours of January 1 2017, met Mr Yousaf last week.

Kevin Woodburn, the victim's father, said his experiences have led him to feel there was a lack of transparency within the overall legal system.

He praised the work of victims' support groups but said their expertise is in emotional, rather than legal, issues.

The Victims Taskforce will meet for the first time in Edinburgh on December 12.

Mr Yousaf said: "While the long-term fall in crime over the last decade means fewer people fall prey to criminals in Scotland, where anyone is a victim it is essential the justice system and wider public services provide the best possible support and advice to them and their loved-ones.

"As part of our work to further improve the experience of victims and witnesses through the justice system, we are investing £17.9 million this year through charities and other agencies working to support victims.

"I am pleased the taskforce will be gathering in a matter of weeks to begin its vital work. This work will be directly informed by victims' experiences and will play a key role in the delivery of our commitments to ensure victims' voices are heard throughout the justice system."

The Lord Advocate said: "The provision of appropriate and meaningful support to the victims of crime is part of a modern criminal justice system. Prosecutors can only do their job of delivering justice if victims and witnesses are willing to come forward and give evidence.

"The Taskforce represents an opportunity to improve the experience of victims, to reassure them that the system will provide support and give them confidence to come forward, speak up and make sure their voices are heard."