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Victims' rights - by country


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I am a victim of crime who do I contact for support and assistance?

You have the right to use victim support services, even if the crime hasn't been reported to the police.

Whether you decide to report a crime or not - or you haven't decided yet - Victim Support Scotland can give you emotional and practical help and support.

If you report a crime, the police - with your permission - may pass on your details to Victim Support Scotland.

You may also be offered help from Victim Information and Advice (VIA) if your case involves:

  • Domestic Abuse
  • Child Victims or Witnesses
  • Hate Crime
  • Sexual Crime;
  • or where it is likely that a trial with involve a Jury.

VIA will give you information about the criminal justice system, keep you informed about the progress of the case and put you in touch with other organisations that can help you.

Victim support hotline

Victim Support Scotland has a hotline which operates Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. They are a national charity that supports people affected by crime across Scotland, regardless of the type of crime they have suffered. You can contact them on 0800 160 1985. The support they provide is free. There are a number of other organisations, including specialist services, that are able to provide free and confidential emotional support, practical help and essential information to victims, witnesses and others affected by crime. Information on these services can be found here.

Is victim support free?

Victim Support Scotland gives free and confidential support to victims, witnesses and others affected by crime.

What types of support can I receive from state services or authorities?

Support at court

If you're asked to be a witness at court, the Witness Service is provided by trained Victim Support Scotland staff and volunteers at all High Court and Sheriff Court locations. They can:

  • Give you practical help and information on what happens at court
  • Arrange for you to visit the court before the trial starts - so you know what to expect.

Some witnesses - because of their circumstances or the nature of the crime - may be able to get extra support when they give evidence. You can find out more about giving evidence at court, including 'special measures' for vulnerable witnesses here. If you're a victim of crime but haven't been called to give evidence as a witness, you might not be informed about the trial. However, you can ask for information about what happens with the case at court.

What types of support can I receive  from non-governmental organisations?

Depending on the organisation, you can be offered different types of support. Victim Support Scotland provide a community based Victim Service. This is provided in every local authority area in Scotland, and their court based Witness Service is in every criminal court in Scotland.

There are a number of other charities who can help depending on the nature of the crime. For example, Rape Crisis Scotland, TARA (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance) who support female victims of human trafficking, and Migrant Help, which also offers support of victims of human trafficking. Children 1st, Scottish Women's Aid and PETAL are also charities which can offer support to victims of crime. More information on these services can be found here.

Last update: 17/05/2019

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