Views sought on proposed changes to justice system in Scotland
MSPs are seeking views on a Bill to reform Scotland’s justice system.
The Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill proposes a number of changes, including the abolition of the not proven verdict, a new Sexual Offences Court and a pilot of rape trials conducted by a single judge without a jury.
The Bill has sparked controversy, with lawyers threatening to boycott the pilot of juryless rape trials.
Other proposals include the introduction of a new victims and witnesses commissioner, and changes to the size of juries.
The Bill aims to improve the experiences of victims and witnesses within Scotland’s justice system, particularly the victims of sexual crime.
The Scottish Government’s Criminal Justice Committee is inviting people to give their opinions on the proposals.
Committee convener Audrey Nicoll MSP said: “As a committee, we know there is a great deal of public interest in this Bill and we intend to consider its provisions in a thorough and balanced way.
“The Bill proposes a number of fundamental changes to the justice system in Scotland and it is essential that these changes act to improve the experience of victims and witnesses.
“We recognise the controversy over some aspects of this Bill but it is important that the committee hears from all sides before forming any conclusions.
“Our call for views is now open and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on the various provisions in the Bill.”
Once the call for views closes, the committee intends to consider the Bill in three phases.
Phase 1 will focus upon establishing a new victims and witnesses commissioner, whose main function would be to promote and support the rights and interests of victims and witnesses.
The second phase will consider provisions such as making changes to the size of juries and abolishing the not proven verdict.
The final phase will look at proposals including a new Sexual Offences Court and a pilot of rape trials conducted by a single judge without a jury.
It is expected the committee will complete Stage 1 scrutiny early next year.
To participate in the consultation go to yourviews.parliament.scot/justice/victims-witnesses-justice-reform-bill.
The call for views closes on September 8.
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