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Victims

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a significant impact on the Scottish criminal justice system. Visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for those due to attend court page, or the Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for bereaved families page for further information. 

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Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service

COPFS Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service, which has offices around the country, offers help to child victims and victims of crime in cases of domestic abuse, hate crime, sexual crime or where it is likely that a trial will involve a jury.

VIA staff can help by:

  • Providing information about the criminal justice system
  • Assisting in a case where a victim appears to be vulnerable for any reason, or where the prosecutor believes the victim will benefit from VIA involvement
  • Keeping you up-to-date on key developments in the case that affects you – such as, dates of hearings, decisions about bail, verdicts and sentences – or why no proceedings are taken
  • Helping you get in touch with organisations that can offer practical and emotional support
  • Discussing any additional support that might help you, for example, if you have to give evidence
    With your consent, helping arrange a visit to court so that you know what to expect if the case goes to trial and you are to give evidence
  • Providing information to you if you are the next of kin in a death enquiry.
During a trial, we can also help victims by telling the judge about the impact of the crime on you and any injury, loss or damage you have suffered, which could result in payment of compensation. In some cases, we can help you prepare a victim statement or ask for your views if the judge is considering making a non-harassment order, which protects you from behaviour you find alarming or distressing.

VIA staff are not prosecutors and cannot decide or influence what happens in a prosecution. The VIA service is optional. 

Contact us if you require further information.

For further information and on-line leaflets please visit our Publications page.

 

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Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is a priority area of work for COPFS due to the seriousness of the crime and the impact it has on victims and children.

Prosecutors define domestic abuse as: "Any form of physical, sexual or mental and emotional abuse which might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere.”

From the time a case of domestic abuse is reported to the procurator fiscal, we take steps to provide a service that safeguards victims. All cases of domestic abuse and cases with child witnesses are referred to the VIA service.

The accused could be kept in prison until the trial or released on bail. Prosecutors may apply to the court for special conditions of bail to be imposed where bail is granted. such as not approaching or contacting you.

You may have to go to court to give evidence if there is a trial. You may be entitled to assistance when giving evidence. VIA staff will be able to advise on what support is available.  Your address will not be read out in court, unless it has been referred to because it is where the crime took place.

Contact us if you require further information.

For further information and on-line leaflets please visit our Publications page.

 

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Sexual crime

Sexual crimes often have a devastating impact on victims. The COPFS National Sexual Crime Unit prosecutes the most serious sexual offences, including rape, child sexual abuse and sexually motivated murder. Sexual crimes may also involve historical abuse. Our highly experienced, expert prosecutors have the skills to deal with the significant challenges and complexities of all sexual crime cases. Victims should have the confidence to report sexual crimes and know that their cases will be handled sensitively.

If someone is charged, you may be worried about going to court to give evidence and also what questions you might be asked. VIA staff will be able to advise on what support is available. Where possible, your privacy will be respected during a trial and you should not be identified in the media.

Contact us if you require further information. 

For further information and on-line leaflets please visit our Publications page.

 

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Adult survivors

Information for adult survivors

We understand that not every person feels ready or able to discuss abuse they experienced as a child.  COPFS and Police Scotland are here to listen to you.  If you feel able to you should report the matter to Police Scotland. Information on how to report a crime to Police Scotland and what happens next can be found on Police Scotland's website.

When a crime is reported, the police carry out an initial investigation. If there is enough evidence, then a report may be submitted to COPFS for consideration.

How COPFS investigates and prosecutes historical abuse

We have specialist prosecutors in our National Sexual Crimes Unit who will investigate historical sexual abuse.Our National Sexual Crimes Unit is responsible for the consideration, progression and prosecution of the most serious sexual offences.  These cases can include historical abuse.The COPFS Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Review Team is a team of specialist prosecutors who consider and progress prosecutions of non-recent child abuse in institutional settings. Institutional settings include residential children’s homes, foster care, boarding schools and secure accommodation. The Review Team is supported by specialist VIA staff, who can provide you with information about your case and how to access support services. There is more information about VIA at the top of this page.  More information on the justice process can be found in our About Us section.

You will also find information for adult survivors of childhood abuse in this Police Scotland video.

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) is investigating the abuse of children in care in Scotland.  The Inquiry will report the outcome of its investigations to the Scottish Ministers and make recommendations they consider required to policy, legislation, and practice for the protection of children in the future.The Lord Advocate is a core participant in SCAI and committed to supporting the work of SCAI and contributing positively and constructively to that work.

COPFS opening statement to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

You can find more information about SCAI and the important work they do at the SCAI website.

Support

You can call the COPFS Enquiry Point on 0300 020 3000 and we can provide information and advice on support organisations that may be able to help you.  You can still access support if you do not want to report the abuse you experienced.  You can find out about survivor support organisations funded by the Scottish Government on their website.

If you need immediate help contact one of the following organisations.

Samaritans

Samaritans provide confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day, for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair. You can contact Samaritans free on 116 123. You can also find more information on the Samaritans website.

Breathing Space

Breathing Space offers free and confidential advice for people experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety, whatever the cause. Call 0800 83 85 87. Phone lines ae open from 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday; and all weekend from 6pm Friday through to 6am Monday. Calls to Breathing Space are free from landlines and from mobiles. The Breathing Space website also provides a wide range of information and advice about coping with low mood, depression and anxiety.