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Views sought on plans to ‘put victims at centre of justice system’

Keith Brown said the justice system can currently ‘re-traumatise’ victims of crime (PA)
Keith Brown said the justice system can currently ‘re-traumatise’ victims of crime (PA)

The justice system can be “distressing and re-traumatising for those who come into contact with it”, a Holyrood minister said as a consultation was launched on proposed changes which could see the end of jury trials for rape cases.

The consultation asks Scots their thoughts on a raft of changes, which also include plans for a new Victims’ Commissioner, introducing a statutory right to anonymity for complainers in sexual offence cases, and the potential to set up a specialist sexual offence court.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said the Government is “committed to improving victims’ experiences of the system by putting them at its centre”.

Keith Brown
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said the system can currently ‘re-traumatise’ victims of crime (PA)

He added: “This consultation explores how to do this by making the justice system more trauma-informed and person-centred.

“It is an important part of far-reaching and ambitious plans to bring about transformational change necessary to ensure our justice system is trusted, modern, smart and effective.”

The consultation comes after the Scottish Government’s victims taskforce and Lady Dorrian’s review, Improving the Management of Sexual Offence Cases.

Her review considered a range of issues, including special measures to assist vulnerable parties involved in civil cases, options to underpin a trauma-informed and person-centred approach, and only having a single judge with no jury in serious sexual offence cases.

The Scottish Government said the 12-week consultation is part of a wide-ranging programme of work to transform the justice system.

Mr Brown said it “will seek to capture the views of legal professionals, the third sector and those with experience of the system”.