What is the Victim Notification Scheme?
If the offender has been sentenced to 18 months or more in prison, the victim can choose whether or not to register with the Victim Notification Scheme.
The scheme has two parts and victims can opt to receive information under either or both parts. Part 1 entitles victims to receive information about the offender’s:
- Date of death, if they die before being released
- Date of transfer, if they are transferred to a place outwith Scotland
- Eligibility for temporary release (for example, for training and rehabilitation programmes or home leave in preparation for release)
- Escape or absconding from prison
- Return to prison for any reason.
Part 2 of the scheme entitles victims to information about the offender being considered either for parole or release on Home Detention Curfew (sometimes known as “tagging”):
- When the Parole Board for Scotland is due to consider the case affecting the victim, the victim will be given the chance to send written comments to the Board
- When the Scottish Prison Service is considering a prisoner’s release on HDC, the victim will be given the chance to send written comments to the prison service
- The victim will be told whether the Board recommends or directs the release of the offender
- The victim will be told whether any conditions have been attached to the licence that relate to them or their family.
How do victims register for the scheme?
After sentencing, the Procurator Fiscal (PF)
or VIA officer will give you a form that you should complete and send to the Scottish Prison Service if you want to receive this information.
When the offender is due to be released, the Prison Service will send a letter telling you the date of release. The Prison Service cannot give details about an offender’s whereabouts after their release.
If, after registering for the Victim Notification Scheme, you decide to leave the scheme you should write to the Scottish Prison Service to let them know. You should also tell them if you change address.
If you didn’t originally join the scheme but then decide you would like to register, you can do this at any time until the offender reaches the point in the sentence when they are due to be released. If the offender is just about to be released, or has already been released, then it will not be possible for you to join the scheme.
What will the offender know?
The Prison Service does not tell the offender that you are on the scheme. But if you send written comments to the Parole Board, the offender is likely to see them. This is because offenders are entitled to see all of the information that the Parole Board uses to make their decision. You do not have to state any personal details like your address or contact details on the form you send to the Board.
Offenders being considered for release on Home Detention Curfew will not normally see any written comments that you send to the Scottish Prison Service, although offenders may see the comments if they complain about a decision not to grant them release.
Just because you have registered with the scheme doesn’t mean that you have to send written comments to the Board (or to the Scottish Prison Service if an offender is being considered for release on HDC). Even if you decide not to send in written comments, you will still receive information about what the Parole Board (or the Scottish Prison Service about releases on HDC) has decided.