EDINBURGH, Scotland – Families of murdered children in Scotland are currently pushing for a change in legislation to grant automatic anonymity to child victims of crime. This call is in response to the current law in Scotland that strips child victims of their right to anonymity when they die as a result of a crime.
Victim Support Scotland (VSS) released an open letter signed by sixty-five people, including families of homicide victims, urging the Scottish Government to provide the same protections to child victims of crime as to living child victims, such as those of sexual abuse or assault. The letter specifically highlights the trauma that families experience during criminal trials when details of the crime, including potentially sensitive elements, are made public.
One of the proposals put forward by VSS calls for extending the current legislation to include automatic anonymity for children who have died as a result of a crime, and to protect the victim’s siblings who are also minors. The letter also emphasizes the importance of allowing families to waive their right to anonymity if they later decide to name their loved one.
Furthermore, a parent who lost a child to murder expressed concern over the constant media intrusion, stating that the public release of their child’s name following their death added to the trauma and made it difficult for their surviving children to live normal lives.
In response to this open letter, Ruth Maguire MSP has submitted a proposed change in legislation to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Young People Committee, as part of the ongoing reform bills. These proposals aim to provide an opportunity to strengthen the current laws regarding child victim anonymity.
The Stage 2 debate on these proposed changes is scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 25. The hope is that these efforts will lead to a positive change in legislation that can offer better protection to all children affected by such tragic circumstances.