27/09/2004

Scotland's crime victims to be notified of prisoner releases

For the first time victims of serious crime in Scotland will be informed of the eligibility for home release or day release of prisoners.

This is in addition to the opportunity for victims of serious crime to make representations to the Parole Board for Scotland when the prisoner is being considered for release on licence.

The new provisions, to take effect from November 1, will ensure that victims can register for the Victim Notification Scheme to get information on home release and day release and be informed if the prisoner is transferred out of Scotland, if the prisoner dies, escapes or absconds.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said: "The rights of victims of crime have been at the centre of our criminal justice reforms. From the Vulnerable Witnesses Act to today's announcement we've tried to ensure that victims are heard and kept informed of developments pertaining to their case.

"This new provision will ensure that anyone who has been a victim of serious crime who wants to can be made aware of any changes to the status of those who offended against them."

She added: "I hope this will be of some comfort to those whose lives have been blighted by crime and will go some way to towards improving confidence in the criminal justice service."

The Victim Notification Scheme sits alongside other victim-orientated projects in the criminal justice system including the Victim Statement Scheme currently being piloted and VIA (Victim Information and Advice) which is part of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The range of offences includes crimes involving: sexual and non-sexual violence; indecency; racial or religious hatred; firearms; causing death by dangerous driving or by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs; and the most serious breaches of the peace and housebreaking offences.

Where the offender is sentenced to four years or more in prison, including life sentences and detention without limit of time, the victim will be given the option to register with the victim notification scheme and to receive this information.

(gmcg)

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