Victims of crime being ‘left in the dark about the fate of criminals’

THE Scottish Government’s Victim Notification Scheme has been branded a failure after a loophole saw people “left in the dark about the fate of criminals who have made their lives a misery.”

Under the scheme, which is open to all victims of crime where the perpetrator was sentenced to 18 months or more, a person is entitled to know, within 48 hours, the date of the offender’s release, or if they die, or if they are eligible for temporary release.

However, in 17 cases where a person was released from prison on compassionate grounds, the victim was not notified.

This included three prisoners convicted of murder, with another convicted of culpable homicide, and one convicted of possessing an indecent photograph of a child.

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Jamie Greene said it was “crucial victims of crime receive all the information they want.”

He said: “It is absolutely shocking that not a single victim of serious crime was notified about the criminal in their case being released.

“It is crucial victims of crime receive all the information they want, but the SNP’s failure to prioritise their rights has meant that victims have been left waiting for answers.

“This shocking admission is yet another example of victims being left in the dark about the fate of criminals who have made their lives a misery.

“The SNP have repeatedly failed to promote their flagship Victim Notification Scheme to the point where only a quarter of victims have signed up to it.

 “The SNP Government cannot continue to kick this issue into the long grass. They must urgently back my plans for a Victims Law so we can guarantee victims will always be at the heart of Scotland’s justice system.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring victims’ rights are at the heart of the justice system and continues to take forward measures to improve this.

“The Victim Notification Scheme enables victims and their families to receive certain information about the release of a prisoner. Victims are able to make informed decisions about whether or not to sign up for the scheme. 

“In April this year, the Scottish Government commenced an independent review of the Victim Notification Scheme, chaired by Alastair MacDonald, former Chair of Victim Support Scotland.

“The review is examining the scheme to ensure it is fit for purpose and serving victims effectively.”

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