The Victim Notification Scheme (VNS) is managed by the Scottish Prison Service, and allows those whose lives have been affected by prisoners sentenced to more than 18 months to receive information about their progression and eventual release.
As a victim of crime you have rights. The Victims' Code for Scotland sets out these rights, how to exercise them and who to contact for help and advice.
The Code can be found here
In some criminal cases, victims have a right to receive information about the release of an offender. They may also have a right to be told when the offender is being considered for release and to make written representations (written comments) about the release of the offender.
The process that allows victims to be told about an offender's release and to make representations is known as the Victim Notification Scheme, or VNS.
VNS comes in two parts, victims can register to be on either Part 1 or Part 2, or they can register for both. The first part allows victims to receive information about an offender's release. The second part allows victims to make representations to the Parole Board in advance of an offender being considered for release. The Board will consider these representations along with other information on the offender's case before reaching a decision.
Those registered under Part 2 of the VNS are entitled to submit written representations to the Board when considering a prisoner’s case. In life sentence cases, an interview with a Board Member may also be requested where a summary will be prepared by the interviewing Member which is then agreed with the registered individual before being provided to the Board. In all Part 2 cases, the registered individual will also receive notification of whether the prisoner is to be released and, if so, any licence conditions relevant to them.
Full information on VNS can be found at the website below:
The Victim Notification scheme is currently undergoing an independent review, led by Alastair Macdonald (chair) and Fiona Young (vice chair). More information on this can be found on the below link:
Independent Review of the Victim Notification Scheme - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
The Parole Board (Scotland) Amendment Rules 2021 came into effect on 1 March 2021, and apply to all cases referred to the Board from that date which are considered under Part IV of The Parole Board (Scotland) Rules 2001, by way of a tribunal hearing.
The Amendment Rules provide the following additional rights to those registered with either part of the VNS:
- The right to request to attend the tribunal hearing as an observer for prisoners serving either a life sentence, an Order for Lifelong Restriction or an extended sentence ( and recalled in their extension period) . When the case is referred to the Board, those registered against it will be contacted and invited to submit a request to attend. Once submitted, requests will be considered by the tribunal Chair, who will decide whether to grant the request or not. The decision on whether to allow any party to attend the hearing rests solely with the tribunal Chair. Where a request is refused, the Chair is required to provide a statement of the reasons for doing so; this will then be sent to the individual who made the request.
- Where the Board directs release at a tribunal hearing, it must publish an anonymised summary of the reasons for its decision. Summaries will also be published on the Case Decisions section of this site. Anyone registered against the case will be automatically sent a copy of the summary, unless they have advised the Board that they do not wish to receive it.
Section 2 of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 requires the Parole Board for Scotland, Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, and the Scottish Prison Service to set and publish standards of service for victims and witnesses.
All of our standards will be monitored, reviewed and reported on annually.
The Annual Reports along with the standards for 2021 - 2022 are set out in the documents below.
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