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Programme for Government 2012-13

First Minister Alex Salmond has unveiled the Scottish Government’s programme for the new Parliamentary year with a pledge to create ‘a better Scotland’ for future generations.

The package of 15 bills includes two that will have an impact on the criminal justice system in Scotland.

The Victims and Witnesses Bill will improve the support available for victims and witnesses, putting victims’ interests at the heart of improvements to the justice system and ensuring that witnesses are able to fulfil their public duty effectively.

The Bill will include provision to widen access to special measures (such as the use of CCTV links) to protect vulnerable witnesses and ensure that offenders contribute to the cost of supporting victims.

The Criminal Justice Bill will reform and modernise the system for investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland. It follows from the thorough, expert reviews of Lord Carloway in relation to criminal procedure generally, and Sheriff Principal Bowen in relation to sheriff and jury procedure. It will ensure Scotland is at the forefront of human rights practice in relation to suspects and accused persons, while at the same time promoting the rights of victims by removing outdated rules on sufficiency of evidence.