The SNP are “betraying” victims of crime by failing to fix a flagship scheme that provides alerts when criminals are about to be released.
Campaigners have said the Victim Notification Scheme can make a “real difference” but it is not working as intended.
New statistics from a parliamentary response to Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene has revealed a record low number of people joined the scheme last year.
Just 306 victims signed up in 2020-21, which is the lowest year on record.
The number of people signing up to the scheme year-on-year has declined by 35 per cent.
Each year, just 1 in 4 victims are signing up to the scheme, which provides alerts when offenders are set to be considered for parole or have been released from prison.
In total, at least 3,605 victims have missed out on vital information over the last three years.
Kate Wallace, Victim Support Scotland CEO, has previously said: "The Victim Notification Scheme can make a real difference to victims of crime and their families” but “the current system is complicated to understand and administer, and often people are asked about joining the scheme at an unsuitable time when they are most traumatised.”
Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Jamie Greene MSP, said: “Thousands of victims have missed out on vital information because the SNP have failed to fix deep issues with their flagship scheme.
“Once again the SNP are letting down victims. Their flagship scheme was meant to give victims critical information on offenders but year-on-year it is failing to support them.
“The evidence is clear that this scheme is not fit for purpose. Only 1 in 4 people who are eligible are using it each year and, worst of all, the number has plummeted year-on-year to a new record low.
“The SNP can’t blame victims for not signing up, when they’re being contacted at a traumatic time and the system is far too difficult to use. They are betraying victims of crime by running a service that is so subpar.
“The Scottish Conservatives have put forward proposals for a Victims Law that would fix these flaws and overhaul the SNP’s soft-touch justice system.
“Our plans would reduce the bureaucracy of the Victims Notification Scheme and offer additional support so that victims and their families are well informed at an early stage that criminals are being considered for release.”
The number of victims signing up to the Victim Notification Scheme is as follows:
Source: Written Parliamentary Question, 10 August 2021, link