Guide

After the verdict: victims and witnesses

Last updated: 25 June 2018

Victim Notification Schemes

In some criminal cases, victims have a right to get information about the release of a prisoner.

They also have a right to be told when the prisoner is considered for parole, and to make written representations (comments) about their release to the Parole Board for Scotland.

Prisoners can be sent to hospital if the court thinks they need treatment for a mental disorder. Or, if they're already in prison, they can be moved to hospital under a transfer for treatment direction.

If this happens, victims can make written representations about the prisoner's first unescorted temporary release from hospital.

This is called the Victim Notification Scheme. If you're eligible, it's up to you if you want to register or not.

Eligibility

You may be able to register for the Victim Notification Scheme if the offender in your case was sentenced to 18 months or more in prison.

The Victim Information and Advice service (VIA) will let you know if you're eligible.

If the offender has been sentenced to less than 18 months in prison, you can write to the Scottish Prison Service and ask them to let you know when the offender is released, or if they escape.

How it works

The scheme has 2 parts. You can choose to receive information under either or both parts.

Part 1

Part 1 gives you the right to know certain information about the offender. You will be told within 48 hours:

  • the date of the offender's release – (but not their location after release)
  • if the offender dies before being released
  • if the offender is transferred out of Scotland
  • if the offender is eligible for temporary release – like for training programmes or home leave
  • if the offender escapes or absconds (doesn't come back when recalled)
  • if the offender returns to prison for any reason and it's connected to your case
  • if a certificate has been granted giving the offender unescorted suspension of detention from hospital for the first time. (This means they can leave hospital for specific periods of time, without an escort or supervision.)

Part 2

Part 2 gives you the right to know if the offender is being considered for parole or for release with an electronic tag (Home Detention Curfew). You'll have the right to:

  • send written comments to the Parole Board for Scotland when they're considering your case
  • send written comments to the Scottish Prison Service when they're considering releasing the offender with an electronic tag.

The Parole Board for Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service must tell you if:

  • they recommend or direct the release of the offender
  • there are any conditions of the release which affect you or your family

The Scottish Prison Service must also tell you if they send written comments to the offender's responsible medical officer before they issue a certificate allowing the offender unescorted suspension of detention from hospital for the first time

The Scottish Prison Service won't tell the offender you have registered for the Victim Notification Scheme. If you choose to send written comments to the Parole Board for Scotland, the offender is likely to see them.

How to register

If you are eligible, after a prisoner has been sentenced the Procurator Fiscal or a Victim Information and Advice (VIA) Officer will give you a form to fill out and send to the Scottish Prison Service.

You can get an application form by phoning the VIA service on 0844 561 3455/2417. Or by or emailing EnquiryPoint@copfs.gsi.gov.uk.

If you change your mind

You can leave the Victim Notification Scheme at any time by writing to the Scottish Prison Service to let them know.

You should tell the Scottish Prison Service if you change your address too.

If the offender has a mental disorder

Victims have a right to get information about the release of an offender who is being kept in hospital for mental health care and treatment under a compulsion order and restriction order. These are orders which keep the offender in hospital.

Victims also have a right to be told when the offender is considered for conditional or absolute discharge from hospital.

Conditional discharge means the offender is released into the community under formal supervision, and their mental health and behaviour are monitored.

Absolute discharge means the order keeping the offender in hospital has been cancelled. This usually happens after a period of conditional discharge.

Victims have a right to make written representations (comments) about the offender's release to the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland.

This is called the Compulsion Order and Restriction Order (CORO) Victim Notification Scheme.

There's more information about eligibility and how to register for the scheme in the booklet Victim Notification Scheme Offenders with a Mental Disorder: Guidance for Victims Eligibility and Registration.

If you're eligible, it's up to you if you want to register or not.

How to register

If you're eligible, after a prisoner has been sentenced the Procurator Fiscal, or a VIA Officer, will give you a form to fill out and send to the CORO Victim Notification Scheme Administration Team in the Scottish Government.

You can get an application form by phoning the Victim Information and Advice service on 0844 561 3455/2417. Or by emailing EnquiryPoint@copfs.gsi.gov.uk.

If you change your mind

You can leave the CORO Victim Notification Scheme at any time by writing to the CORO Victim Notification Scheme Administration Team to let them know.

You should tell the Team if you change your address.

Support and advice

Victim Support Scotland can help you decide whether to join the Victim Notification Scheme, or the CORO Victim Notification Scheme.

If you're joining the Victim Notification Scheme, it may also be able to help you prepare your representations for the Parole Board for Scotland.

Victim Support Scotland
Phone: 0345 603 9213 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm)
Find out about call charges

Further information

Victim Notification Scheme

You can find out more about the Victim Notification Scheme from the Scottish Prison Service.

Phone: 0131 330 3500
Find out about call charges

Email: vns@sps.gov.uk

Post:

Scottish Prison Service
Victim Notification Section
Calton House
5 Redheughs Rigg
Edinburgh
EH12 9HW

CORO Victim Notification Scheme

You can find out more about the CORO Victim Notification Scheme from the Victim Notification Scheme Administration Team in the Scottish Government.

Phone: 0131 244 3340

Find out about call charges

Email: vns@gov.scot

Post:

CORO Victim Notification Scheme Unit
3ER St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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After the verdict: victims and witnesses
Victim Notification Schemes