Victim Information and Advice
Victim Information and Advice (VIA) provide a service to victims and witnesses of crimes reported to the Procurator Fiscal (PF)Often just called the Fiscal. The Procurator Fiscal is the public prosecutor in Scotland. The PF is in charge of deciding whether someone should be prosecuted and what court the case should be heard in. The prosecution has the 'burden of proof' which means that they need to present enough evidence to prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' that an accused person is guilty. The PF prosecutes the crime on behalf of the Crown, and makes decisions in the public interest (see below). (see Crown Office) which involve:
- Domestic abuse
- Racial or religious aggravation
- Sexual offences
- Child victims and witnesses
- Crimes where any trial is likely to involve a jury.
They can also assist:
- The nearest relatives in cases of deaths which may involve criminal proceedings, or where there is to be a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI)A public hearing in front of a Sheriff, usually at the Sheriff Court nearest to where the death happened. The purpose of an FAI is to establish whether a death could have been prevented and whether any action is needed to protect the public from danger in the future. or significant further inquiries
- Vulnerable witnesses or victims who may need additional support (because of, for example, language, circumstances or disabilities).
If you fall within one of these categories, VIA staff will contact you. If you do not want to receive the VIA service or if you want to opt in or out at any time, just let VIA know.
VIA will let you have information about the criminal justice system, keep you informed about progress in the case that affects you (including information on bail decisions), and help put you in touch with organisations that can offer practical and emotional support. If you have to give evidence, VIA can discuss any additional support that might help and, with your consent, can help arrange a visit to a court so you have a better idea of what to expect if the case goes to trial.
For more information about VIA visit the VIA website or telephone: 01389 739557 or 0844 561 3000.