Victims and Families

Victims Code for Scotland

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.

Victim Notification Scheme

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.

Victims who register under Part 1 of the scheme will receive the following information from the Parole Board for Scotland:

  • A summary of the Boards decision IF they have indicated they want this information.

Victims who register under Part 2 of the scheme will receive the following information from the Parole Board for Scotland:

  • A letter will be sent from the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), on behalf of the Parole Board for Scotland to a registered victim providing the opportunity, (in line with their rights), to submit written representations to the Board for consideration.
  • If the prisoner is serving a Life Sentence, a letter will be sent to a registered victim to advise they are eligible for a Victim Interview with a Board member.
  • In cases where the offender is serving a Life Sentence, is an Extended Sentence Prisoner or serving an Order for Life Long Restriction sentence, a letter will be sent to the registered victim to advise they can request to attend the prisoners Oral Hearing.
  • Will receive a phone call with the outcome of the consideration if they have let us know they want to receive this information.
  • A decision summary following the release of a prisoner.

Full information on VNS can be found at the website below:

Victim Notification Scheme

VNS Review

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 – (

The Parole Board (Scotland) Amendment Rules 2021

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.

Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses

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.

Latest Documents: