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Victim notification scheme for victims of offenders with a mental disorder

Published: 11 Sep 2017

Information leaflet on eligibility and registration for the victim notification scheme for victims of offenders with a mental disorder.

13 page PDF

361.5kB

13 page PDF

361.5kB

Contents
Victim notification scheme for victims of offenders with a mental disorder
What information can you receive?

13 page PDF

361.5kB

What information can you receive?

There are two parts to the scheme and, if you choose to take part, you can choose to opt into either part 1 or part 2, or both parts.

Part 1

If you join part 1 of the scheme you can be told:

a) that the compulsion order to which the offender is subject has been revoked.

b) that the restriction order to which the offender is subject has been revoked. Where an offender is under a compulsion order and restriction order, the assessment of the risk posed by the offender and the measures needed to manage any risks may be such that it is no longer felt to be right for the offender to be subject to a restriction order. The offender may continue to meet the criteria for a compulsion order. If a Tribunal decides that the offender no longer poses a risk of serious harm to the public, it may revoke the restriction order. In this situation, the compulsion order may be varied – see (e) below.

If a compulsion order and/or the restriction order is revoked, the victim will no longer be eligible for information under the VNS.

c) where the compulsion order or the restriction order has been revoked, that the decision to revoke it—
(i) is under appeal, or
(ii) cannot competently be appealed against and is therefore final.
If the decision to revoke a compulsion order or a restriction order is appealed against you will also be told about the decision of the Court of Session or the Supreme Court(whichever is relevant).

d) the date of the offender’s death.

We will make all attempts to tell you about an offender’s death as soon as possible after the date of the death. However, you should be aware that there may be early press coverage of the death of an offender and, sometimes, despite our best efforts, it is not always possible for us to contact you before it is made public.

e) that the measures specified in the compulsion order have been varied. A compulsion order is a hospital based order but it can be modified for example to provide for treatment in the community. These variations can require the offender to live at a given address or to allow visits from the clinical team, or to go to a given place for treatment.

f) that the offender has been transferred to a place out with Scotland. Sometimes an offender needs to be transferred to a place out with Scotland for mental health care and treatment. We will let you know the offender has been transferred out of Scotland as soon as possible after the offender has been transferred.

g) that the Mental Health Tribunal has made an order conditionally discharging the offender.
If after a hearing, the Tribunal is satisfied that it is not necessary for the offender to be detained in hospital (to protect others from serious harm or for any other reason) then it may make an order for conditional discharge. The offender remains under a compulsion order and restriction order but does not have to stay in hospital. He or she will however be subject to conditions set by the Tribunal, which may include supervision and treatment requirements; exclusion zones; “no contact” conditions; conditions about abstinence from drugs/alcohol; and place of residence. An offender on conditional discharge can be recalled to hospital if necessary.

h) the terms of any conditions that are relevant to the victim that the Tribunal impose on the offender on conditional discharge.
Under the scheme, a condition is relevant to the victim if the condition restricts the offender contacting the victim or being in a place where the victim or their family is regularly at or in. To get information on such conditions, you must first have made a request to the Scottish Ministers to be informed about any such condition. Your request may be invalid if you ask for information about a place which is not one which you or any member of your family is regularly at or in, or a place which covers an unreasonably large area.

i) that the Scottish Ministers have recalled the offender to hospital.
The Scottish Ministers have powers to recall an offender to hospital from conditional discharge if necessary . If an incident (including, for example, a positive drug test) happens, the Scottish Ministers must be alerted at once and consideration given by the multi-disciplinary team as to whether recall is appropriate. The Scottish Ministers have the power to recall an offender when satisfied that it is necessary for the offender to be detained in hospital. This would include a situation where there is an increase in risk to the public.

Where the compulsion order authorises the offender’s detention in hospital, you can also be told:

a) that the offender is unlawfully at large from hospital.
Sometimes offenders escape or abscond from hospital. The police are alerted at once. If the offender is considered to present a threat to the victim, the police will take steps to make sure that the victim is notified as soon as possible. Usually, however, offenders who escape or abscond, return within the first 24 hours. You will be notified about the offender escaping or absconding if the offender remains at large for longer than 48 hours.

b) that the offender has returned to hospital having been unlawfully at large.

c) that a certificate has been granted, for the first time, under the Mental Health Act which suspends the offender’s detention and does not impose a supervision requirement.
An offender who is under a compulsion order and restriction order which authorises their detention in hospital for treatment cannot leave hospital unless they have permission. This is known as ‘suspension of detention’ or ‘leave from hospital’. It is necessary to suspend detention to allow an offender to appear in court or to go to medical appointments, but it may also be suspended as part of the offender’s treatment plan. Decisions on suspending detention as part of the offender’s treatment are made by the offender’s responsible medical officer (a psychiatrist) and are only taken after a risk assessment has been carried out. Normally the offender will initially be accompanied by hospital staff, but their treatment progresses, it may mean the offender is granted unescorted suspension of detention, which allows them leave from hospital for specific periods of time, without an escort or supervision. The first time this happens, you will be informed that a certificate has been granted suspending detention without a supervision requirement. You will, however, not be told about each period of suspension of detention without supervision after that.

d) that the certificate mentioned in paragraph (c) has been revoked.
You will also be informed if a certificate that has been granted is later revoked (in these cases the offender’s detention would not be suspended and they would be unable to leave hospital).

Part 2

You can also, if you wish, decide to join part 2 of the Victim Notification Scheme. If you decide to join part 2 of the VNS this means that you will be given the opportunity to make representations before a decision:

a) by the offender’s responsible medical officer about granting for the first time a certificate which suspends the offender’s detention and does not impose a supervision requirement.

b) by the Tribunal when considering an application or reference in respect of an offender subject to a compulsion order and restriction order, to: make no order (maintaining the status quo); revoke the compulsion order; revoke the restriction order; vary the measures given in the compulsion order; or grant conditional discharge imposing certain conditions.

c) by the Scottish Ministers imposing, altering or removing a condition which is (or would be) relevant to the victim.
Under the Scheme, a condition is relevant to the victim if the condition restricts the offender contacting the victim or being in a place which the victim or their family is regularly at or in. You must first have made a request to the Scottish Ministers to be informed about any such condition. You will not be asked to make representations if it is not reasonably practicable to give you an opportunity to do so.

You may not get all of the above information or be able to make representations if:

  • decisions were taken about an offender before the scheme began (September 2017); or
  • exceptional circumstances make it inappropriate to give you information; or
  • an offender returns to Scotland after having been transferred outwith Scotland.

Contact

Email: Natalie Mcdermid, vns@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG