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The Victim Notification Scheme (VNS) is a statutory scheme, which came into force on 1 November 2004 and created the statutory basis on which to provide victims of offenders who had been sentenced, for certain crimes and to a sentence of four years or more with the right to receive information about the offender's progression within prison and eventual release. The statutory scheme followed a pilot scheme. On 15 May 2008, the right to receive information was extended to victims of offenders who had been sentenced to 18 months or more.

On 12 December 2013, the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Bill received Royal Assent in January 2014. The Act entitled victims of all offences to receive information where the offender was sentenced to more than 18 months. The central aim of the 2014 Act is to improve the experience of victims and witness of crime within the Scottish Justice system. The Victims’ Rights (Scotland) Regulations 2015 extended the right to receive certain information to victims of offenders sentenced to less than 18 months.  

In December 2016 some of the responsibilities for ensuring victims were able to exercise rights were transferred  from the former Scottish Government Parole Unit to the SPS who were already responsible for ensuring victims were able to exercise rights in relation to information about offenders. This step is aimed at simplifying the provision of information to victims.

Please note that the contact numbers have changed for the VNS and are now:

Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses

The Scottish Prison Service in partnership with Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and the Parole Board for Scotland has published a shared document containing Standards of Service for Victims.

Staff and prisoner at desk in Stirling