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Understanding criminal justice

Help if you're a victim or witness of crime and you want to know more about how crimes are dealt with.

Reporting crimes

Report a crime


Call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger, or if the crime is in progress.

If you are a victim of crime, or if you have witnessed a crime, you should contact the police as soon as possible.

Finding out about your rights

Your rights – the Victims' Code

As a victim of crime you have rights. The Victims' Code for Scotland sets out these rights and who to contact for help and advice.

Read more about the Victims' Code for Scotland.

Claim compensation

You can apply for compensation if you or someone you know has been hurt in a violent crime.

Find out how to claim compensation for a criminal injury.

During the police investigation

Make a statement after a crime

If you've been a victim or witness of crime, you'll normally be asked to give the police a statement so they can understand what happened.

Find out what's involved with making a statement after a crime.

After your police interview

After you've reported a crime, the police will decide if they can investigate the case and the Procurator Fiscal will decide if the case should go to court.

Find out what happens in the investigation and prosecution process.

If a case goes to court

What happens at court

Whether you're called to court as a witness or not, you may find it helpful to find out about the court process and how to ask for information about a case.

Read about what happens at a criminal court case.

Being a witness at court

Help and support is available to you if you get a citation letter asking you to give evidence at court. Find information on how you can prepare and what happens when you give evidence.

Being a witness at court.

Expenses for going to court

You may be able to claim back expenses for travelling to and from court, meals and loss of earnings.

Find out about claiming expenses for going to court.

After the verdict


After a guilty verdict, the judge has to decide what punishment to give to the offender. This punishment is called a sentence.

Find out about sentencing after a verdict.

The appeals process

If a convicted person was found guilty after their trial, they can appeal against:

Register for the Victim Notification Scheme

Sometimes victims and witnesses have a right to get information about the release of a prisoner and be told when the prisoner is considered for parole. If you're eligible it's up to you if you want to register or not.

Find out how to register with the Victim Notification Scheme.

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