Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
16 January 2015
Call for online sentencing portal

Call for online sentencing portal

A leading victims group has called for details of sentences handed down by Scottish courts to be published online in a bid to increase transparency.

Victim Support Scotland (VSS) claims the creation of a “public domain of sentencing information” would ensure “reasonable expectations” for victims of crime.

The Judicial Office for Scotland insists it is already making efforts to publish as much information as possible within current resources.

At present, judges may decide to make sentencing statements available online “in cases where there is public interest or where the sentence may be complicated or controversial”.

“Currently, many victims have little or no knowledge at all about the criminal justice system, how a verdict is reached and the reasons behind it,” acting director of corporate services for VSS, Sarah Crombie, told Holyrood. 

“This lack of knowledge of the system, on which they are fully dependent, may create feelings of frustration, isolation and misunderstanding. 

“Victim Support Scotland’s services are frequently asked about sentencing practices, in particular at the deferred sentence stage of the case and can see a clear need for such explanations to be delivered in an appropriate manner suitable to victims’ needs.”

A “one-stop shop” that is easily accessible and proactively signposted to members of the public and victims is necessary, she added.

“To ensure that the public can assess and understand the information on sentencing, it must be visible, timely, appropriate and consistent and one suggestion how to spread information and make sentencing more transparent would be to set up a public domain of sentencing information,” she said.

“This would enable the general public, including victims, to search for cases to assess previous sentences and possibly the application of thought or reasons behind that particular sentence.

“Accessing such information would set reasonable expectations for victims, as well as make the entire sentencing process more transparent to the general public.” 

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: “We regularly publish statements on the Judiciary of Scotland website, in which judges explain their reasons for passing a particular sentence.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe



Stay in the know with our fortnightly magazine

Stay in the know with our fortnightly magazine


Popular reads
Back to top