Victims' rights - by country

Scotland

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Scotland

How do I report a crime?

In an emergency call 999. To report a crime call 101.

If you're deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or have a speech-impairment, a text phone is available on 18000.

If you've registered with emergencySMS - and you have no other option - you can send a text message to 999.

When to call 999

In an emergency, call 999 if:

  • There's a risk of personal injury or loss of life
  • A crime is happening now
  • Someone suspected of crime is nearby

Report a non-emergency

Call 101 to contact the police if the crime isn't an emergency.

If you're deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or have a speech-impairment, a text phone is a available on 18001 101.

Examples of crimes that don't need an emergency response include:

  • Your car has been stolen
  • Your property has been damaged
  • You suspect drug use or dealing
  • You want to report a minor traffic collision
  • You want to give the police information about crime in your area

Report a crime online

In an non-emergency, you can report a the following crimes on the Police Scotland website:

You can also fill out the Crimestoppers online form if you want to report a crime anonymously.

How do I find out what’s happening with the case?

As a victim, you have the right to request case-specific information in relation to a crime. If this has not been provided to you, you can make a formal request from a number of different bodies:

  • Police Scotland - information about a decision not to proceed with a criminal investigation and any reasons for it, and a decision to end a criminal investigation and any reasons for it.
  • Crown Office and Prosecutor Fiscal Service - if your case is not prosecuted, you have the right to be told the reasons why and to request a review of this decision.
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service - the dates of any court hearings, the final decision of a court in a trial or any appeal arising from a trial, and any reasons for it.

Am I entitled to legal aid (during the investigation or trial)? Under what conditions?

Victims are not parties to criminal proceedings in Scotland. If a victim needs legal advice and assistance they can contact a lawyer. They may be entitled to help with the costs of that advice and assistance via the legal aid system.

Scottish Legal Aid Board is the body responsible for operating the legal aid system in Scotland.

Can I claim expenses (for taking part in the investigation/trial)? Under what conditions?

If you've been 'cited' to appear at court as a witness, you may be entitled to claim some expenses.

Being 'citied' means you've been sent an official letter - called citation - telling you to come to court and give evidence as a witness.

Information on how to claim expenses and an expenses claim form can be found on the back of the citation.

Read over your citation carefully and take it with you when you go to court. Make sure you fill in the expenses form on the back of your citation to claim expenses from the person who cited you as a witness.

Cash payments are only made in cases of genuine hardship or emergency. Exceptional costs such as taxi fares, air travel and overnight accommodation must be approved by the procurator fiscal in advance.

Claims can be made for loss of earning for witnesses who are employed and self-employed. There are no childcare facilities at court buildings so prosecution witnesses can claim expenses for childcare and babysitting at fixed rates. If you need to organise care cover in your absence, you will be reimbursed at a fixed rate.

Can I appeal if my case is closed before going to court?

As a victim of crime in Scotland, you have the right to a review of a decision by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service not to prosecute a case reported to them, where that decision was made on or after 1 July 2015. You should, if possible, apply for a review within one month of the date you are informed of the decision not to prosecute. Generally, you would be told of the review decision within 20 working days. The Lord Advocate (the chief public prosecutor Scotland) has published rules on this process.

Can I be involved in the trial?

This depends on whether you are called as a witness at trial. If you're not called as a witness, you can ask the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service:

  • What offences a person has been charged with - once the accuse has had a chance to answer to them (only the general nature of the charges.)
  • What's happening with a case in court.
  • What decision the judge, sheriff or justice of the peace made about a case.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website has further details of how to get information in relation to the case and for information on the calling of cases to court, including trials due to call in the near future. This includes:

  • The High Court of Justiciary.
  • Sheriff Courts.
  • Justice of the Peace Courts.

If you are a witness, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service will:

  • Update you on the progress of the court case at least once per hour and let you know when you can leave court.
  • Provide separate waiting rooms for prosecution and defence witnesses, and access to refreshments.
  • If you're entitled to give your evidence to court by live TV link, someone from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service will meet you on the day and explain the process for giving evidence to court.

What is my official role in the justice system? For example, am I or can I choose to be a: victim, witness, civil party or private prosecutor?

Victims are not parties to criminal proceedings in Scotland.  Subject to prosecutorial discretion, victims may be requested to give evidence in court.

What are my rights and obligations in this role?

Information on your rights as a victim can be found in the Victims' Code.

If you are called as a witness, you will receive a citation.  Your citation is an official letter telling you to come to court and give evidence as a witness.

It is important not to ignore the citation. Tell whoever asked you to be a witness right away if there's an important reason why you can't make the date of the trial.  If you don't turn up at the correct time and place, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.

Some witnesses may find it difficult to give evidence.  They may be particularly vulnerable because of their circumstances or the nature of their evidence.  The court can take extra steps (called 'special measures') to help vulnerable witnesses give the best evidence they can, such as a screen so the witness does not have to see the accused.  You should discuss any concerns with the person who has requested that you give evidence as they may be able to apply to the court for special measures on your behalf.

Further information on being a witness can be found on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service website and on the Giving Evidence at Court pages of mygov.scot.

Can I make a statement during the trial or give evidence? Under what conditions?

Subject to prosecutorial discretion, victims may be requested to give evidence in court. Scotland's general laws of evidence apply to those victims who are called to give evidence.

For those victims who are to give evidence, and are considered vulnerable or have protection needs, special measures can be made available through sections 271 to 271M of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 in order to assist them in giving evidence. These measures are automatic for children and for those persons who are victims in specific offences such as sexual offences, trafficking and stalking.

In addition, victims may also be able to make a victim statement under section 14 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. Further information on victim statements can be found here.

What information will I receive during the trial?

You can contact the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to find out the dates of any court hearings, the final decision of a court in a trial or any appeal arising from a trial, and any reasons for it. In addition, if you are attending court to give evidence, court staff at the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service will update you on the progress of the court case at least once per hour and let you know when you can leave court.

Will I be able to access court files?

Please see above for details of information that can be accessed.

Last update: 17/05/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

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