How can we provide the best support to people affected by crime?

Closed 31 Aug 2021

Opened 3 Jun 2021

Feedback updated 11 Nov 2021

We asked

In partnership with Victim Support Scotland, we sought views that would help us explore the ‘aftercare’ and referral process for individuals affected by crime in Scotland.

We carried out focus groups, depth interviews and a public survey which ran between 3rd June and 31st August 2021. These allowed us to gain views from our communities surrounding the Victim Care Card, the use of language in aftercare processes and potential opportunities for improvement.

All of this was done with the aim of enabling effective organisational responses which put the needs of individuals at the heart of what we do.

You said

Our survey received 492 responses, 82% of these respondents had experienced crime in the last two years, either as a victim or a witness. Of these, 47% shared they had been a victim of crime, 15% had been a witness of crime and 20% had been both a witness and victim of crime. The most common type of crimes experienced were assault, harassment and threats - affecting 109 respondents.

Responses to our survey highlighted key themes and issues that need to be addressed to improve the aftercare system for people affected by crime. These were:

  • Improvements to the Victim Care Card;
  • Communication needs; and
  • Use of language.

Victim Care Card

43% of respondents who had been a victim or witness of crime said they did not receive a Victim Care Card. 14% said they were offered the card and 5% could not remember.

It is important to consider that these findings were from a small number of respondents, therefore this does not necessarily reflect the experiences of everyone who has been affected by crime. However, responses still highlight main areas where we can drive change and improvement to ensure everyone affected by crime receives the best possible aftercare.

Respondents also highlighted that they would like to see changes to the formatting and layout of the card. Suggestions included:

  • Providing more relevant information on the card;
  • An inclusive and easy-read version for people who require further assistance; and
  • An electronic version of the card – with up to date digital information easily accessed online. Over half (57%) of respondents said this would be ‘extremely helpful’ or ‘helpful’.

Communication needs

Our interviews and focus groups highlighted issues around communication between services and people who use them, with some participants not feeling supported in their aftercare journey. Some shared feelings of isolation, particularly because they were not kept up to date with developments in their case. Overall, responses show that people would like to see a more cohesive approach to the aftercare system, particularly with support following the reporting of a crime being seamless and connected.

Use of language

Another area for consideration was the use of language, particularly when handling incidents with people affected by crime. Many respondents did not want to be identified as ‘victims’, especially due to a perceived stigma associated with the term, and called for a change in the language used around being affected by crime. Consensus was not reached on what a better term might be, with many also not associating with the term ‘survivor’.

Ultimately, language was strongly associated with how people feel they are perceived. Respondents stated that they just want to be treated like a person who has experienced something awful – and get the best help possible from police and support services to reduce the wider impact on their lives.

We did

Learning from the results of our work with our communities, we are taking the following actions:

  • Review of the Victim Care Card and the process of issuing cards to people who experience crime.
  • Review our aftercare policy which guides how police officers engage with people who have experienced crime directly, making best use of all referrals to organisations which meet people’s individual needs and circumstances.
  • Utilise new digital capabilities which help us understand referrals in different areas, with focused initiatives to support referrals to victim support services and increase uptake in areas where this is lower.
  • Engage public and third sector partners to ensure that findings from recent research on accessibility and formats of information provided by organisations is included in the steps we take.
  • We will also share the findings from this work with the Scottish Government and other agencies.

Police Scotland’s Partnerships, Prevention and Community Wellbeing Division are now leading all of this work to make improvements in the way we do aftercare.

Early insights have already been shared and discussed at a bi-annual event between Victim Support Scotland and Police Scotland. Results have also been shared with Police Scotland’s Strategic Leadership Board (which is where all Assistant Chief Constables, Deputy Chief Constables, Deputy Chief Officers and the Chief Constable discuss important issues for the organisation each month).

A full report will also be shared at Police Scotland’s next Public Confidence Governance Board later in 2021 and reported in the Quarter Three report to the Scottish Police Authority’s Policing Performance Committee (this is publicly available and more information is available on the SPA website).  


This survey is about the aftercare options provided by Police Scotland for people who have been a survivor or witness of crime, although anyone can take part. It includes questions about referral to support services for people affected by crime. It also asks about the Victim Care Card, which provides aftercare information and important contact details.

This survey has been produced in collaboration between Police Scotland and Victim Support Scotland. It asks for individual views about how Police Scotland can best support survivors/witnesses of crime when it comes to providing immediate support and information. This is what we mean by 'aftercare'. Your views will help to inform development and shape our services.

This survey asks for your views about aftercare support, rather than any other feedback/complaints. To give feedback on Victim Support Scotland’s services, please see details on the Victim Support Scotland website. To provide feedback about Police Scotland’s service, please see our public information on the Police Scotland website.

What does this survey involve?

  • It is optional - you can choose if you want to take part and which questions you fill out or leave blank.
  • It should only take around 10 minutes to complete.
  • There will be an option for you to give us extra information later on in the survey if you would like to do so.
  • You will not be required to give any details about any specific incident but you will be asked for a few basic details about if you have been a victim or witness to a crime. This is completely optional.
  • All individual responses to the survey will be kept confidential.
  • Police Scotland and Victim Support Scotland will use the anonymised findings of survey data in reports and publications and will use it to develop our services and approaches.
  • Police Scotland and Victim Support Scotland will store all data from this survey securely and in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. Your data rights will not be affected by participation. By clicking the link below, you agree to take part in this survey and give your consent for your responses to be handled by Police Scotland and Victim Support Scotland for the purposes outlined here.
  • As responses are anonymous, we cannot respond to you about what you have said.
  • Anybody requiring emotional support is welcome to call the Victim Support Scotland Helpline on 0800 160 1985.

Complete the survey in a different way

BSL users can complete the survey here

This survey is also available in a version that is easier to read. If you need this version, see the links section at the bottom of this page.

Please let us know if you want to complete the survey in a different way (for example, over the phone, or if you require it in another language to be able to take part):

Reporting a crime or providing information about an incident

Please note that this platform is not for reporting crime, providing information about an incident, or asking us for help. To find out ways to contact the police, please visit our website. If you or someone else needs urgent police assistance, please dial 999 immediately.

What happens next

Thank you to everyone who participated in this survey. 

Your feedback and views will be analysed and used to inform the decisions we make, internally and with our partners, to improve the experiences of people who experience crime in Scotland. We are committed to ensuring that we provide the quality service that Scotland's diverse communities expect and deserve. 

We will update this page with the findings from the survey and our one to one interviews which make up this public engagement exercise as soon as they are available. 


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