News In Focus
COPFS and Rape Crisis Scotland feedback agreement "will help service"
Victims of sexual crime will have a formal means of helping to improve the support received from Scotland's prosecution service under a new agreement between Rape Crisis Scotland and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Serrvice.
Under a "memorandum of understanding" between the two bodies, Rape Crisis Scotland will share anonymous feedback on victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system and their views on the service provided by COPFS.
This information, only provided with the victim’s consent, will be used to identify ways COPFS can improve the service provided to victims of sexual crime.
The feedback will cover, among other things, the way the process was explained, how information was shared and where relevant the person’s experience in court. Victims will also be asked if anything could have been done better by COPFS.
Feedback will be sought both in cases where the case has reached a conclusion – whether conviction or acquittal – and when a victim has been advised that there will be no prosecution.
The two services have already been working together, but a report last month by the Inspectorate of Prosecution found that women often "disengaged" with the prosecution process due to feeling "re-traumatised" when a case went to court.
Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, who signed the memorandum along with Sandy Brindley from Rape Crisis Scotland, commented: "This memorandum of understanding reflects the service’s commitment to victims. The service already works closely with Rape Crisis Scotland and this memorandum of understanding strengthens that relationship. The feedback process which we have agreed will provide a mechanism to ensure that the voice of the victim is heard, and will help to shape the work of the service in relation to victims.
"We cannot bring the perpetrators of sexual crime to justice unless victims come forward and speak up. That is why we value the work of Rape Crisis Scotland and other organisations which provide support to victims. That is why we have revised our own victim strategy and want to continue to improve the service which we provide. These arrangements for obtaining feedback from victims on a more systematic basis will help us to do that."
Ms Brindley added: "We are delighted to work with the Crown Office to develop a systemic approach to obtaining feedback from complainers. This is a very positive development, which will ensure that the experience and views of sexual offence complainers are fed directly into the prosecution process."