Helen’s Law

While I understand the deep upset that the murder of a relative or loved one causes, and that this must be greatly amplified when the remains are not available for burial and a sense of closure, the kind of change in law that is advocated by this campaign would be quite complex and require consideration of a wide range of factors that would need to be carefully balanced.


As you may be aware, responsibility for the criminal justice system in Scotland rests with the Scottish Parliament.  Currently, there are already mechanisms in place in Scotland that take account of victims’ and relatives of victims’ concerns when decisions to release offenders on licence are taken. The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2001 allows written representations to be made to the parole board when an offender sentenced to 18 or more months in prison is being considered for release on licence.


The SNP Scottish Government also introduced the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act in 2014, which brings into law a number of changes to improve the experience victims and witnesses have of Scotland’s justice system. For example, the law creates a duty for justice organisations to set clear standards of service for victims and witnesses; it gives victims and witnesses new rights to certain information about their case; and allows victims to make oral representations about the release of life sentence prisoners.


I hope that this reassures you that in Scotland, the Scottish Government is focussed on creating a justice system which ensures that victims and witnesses feel supported, safe and informed at every stage of the legal process.