Supporting Vulnerable Witnesses: Policy Priorities and Key Issues for Reform

This event will provide a timely opportunity for delegates to discuss the policy priorities for supporting vulnerable witnesses as the Scottish Parliament considers the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence)(Scotland) Bill.

Building a ‘victim-centred’ justice system

Introduced to the Scottish Parliament in June, the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence)(Scotland) Bill is part of a wider package of reforms aimed at supporting victims and witnesses in Scotland’s justice system.

Following on from a major review led by Lord Carloway, the Bill aims to enable more widespread use of pre-recorded evidence, whilst The Scottish Government is also working to develop a ‘victim-centred’ approach by streamlining points of contact and improving information available to witnesses.

Join Holyrood on 30 October as we discuss the potential impact of the reforms on Scotland’s justice system, and whether legislation goes far enough in protecting and supporting vulnerable witnesses.

Key issues to be addressed

  • Up-to-date brief on the progress of the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidenc)(Scotland) Bill
  • Examine innovative models of support for victims and vulnerable witnesses
  • Consider the potential impact of reforms on the process and outcomes of trials
  • Priorities for overcoming technical challenges surrounding pre-recorded evidence

Who will benefit from attending?

  • Third sector and independent organisations working within the sector
  • Child protection and social work practitioners
  • Solicitors and advocates working in the sector
  • Organisations working in the justice sector including court and police services


09:15 Registration and Morning Refreshments

10:00 Welcome from the Chair

Professor Vanessa Munro, Head of School, Warwick Law School

Session 1: Developing a ‘Victim-centred’ Justice System

  • Partnership working and improving the experience of victims and vulnerable witnesses
  • Case studies of innovative models of support

10:05 Context on current policy and upcoming reforms

Willie Cowan, Deputy Director, Criminal Justice, The Scottish Government

10:25 Unreasonable Adjustments

  • Supporting very young children and children with complex needs in the Criminal Justice System

Carly McAuley, Intermediary, Triangle Intermediary Services


Sandy Brindley, Chief Executive, Rape Crisis Scotland

11:05 Questions and Discussion

11:25 Refreshments and Networking

Session 2: Assessing the Impact of Reforms on Trial Processes and Outcomes

  • Analysing the potential of pre-recorded evidence
  • Technical challenges surrounding pre-recorded evidence
  • Investigate ‘ground rules hearings’ and the effect on witness cross-examination


Gillian Mawdsley, Secretary, Criminal Law Committee, Law Society of Scotland

12:10 The Impact of Pre-recorded Evidence on Trial Processes and Outcomes

Kay McCorquodale, Chief Development and Innovation Officer, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service


Matt Jackson, Advocate

12:50 Questions and Discussion

13:15 Lunch and Networking

Session 3: Interactive Roundtable Discussion

  • Meeting the needs of key stakeholder groups
  • Next steps for Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Bill


Rona Mackay MSP, Deputy Convener, Justice Committee, The Scottish Parliament

14:15 Interactive Roundtable Discussion

14:55 Chair’s Closing Remarks

Professor Vanessa Munro, Head of School, Warwick Law School

15:00 Close of Event

*Agenda subject to change


COSLA, Verity House, 19 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh EH12 5BH | Map


Delegate rates (excluding VAT):

  • Discounted rate: 1 place £145 + VAT (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, housing associations, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email or phone 0131 285 1635

30 October 2018



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