‘This can only discourage other victims’

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the ordeal of a teenage sex attack victim left to wait more than a year to see her alleged attacker brought to court is a damning indictment of our justice system.

It is impossible for most people to imagine what she has been through over the past 12 months without the added burden caused by the grindingly slow turn of the wheels of justice.

As the girl, and others have pointed out, this kind of case can only discourage victims from coming forward to report sex crimes in future.

The police cannot be criticised for their investigation or even the prosecutors involved in judging the case before it is brought to court.

Without being privy to all the details we cannot possibly know what complications they may be trying to overcome.

What is beyond question is that this young girl deserves far better treatment than she has received.

The Scottish Government has produced a victims’ charter setting out what standards of services victims should be able to count on in their dealings with the criminal justice or children’s hearing systems.

The national standards set out three main rights for victims in Scotland: the right to information, to support and to participation.

None of these appears to have been followed properly in this instance, leaving a young girl deeply distressed and feeling abandoned by the authorities.

The pledge of better rights for the victims of crime needs to be upheld at all times, or it becomes no more than useless hot air.

Avoidable tragedy

Today we feature the tragic story of Stuart Cutler – a fit 22-year-old who one minute was in the kitchen getting a glass of water and the next was dead – the victim of a previously undetected heart condition.

His family have bravely spoken in support of the campaign to introduce heart screening for every young person in Scotland. The death on the pitch of Motherwell captain Phil O’Donnell in 2007 again brought the issue to public attention but almost four years later the fight is continuing for wider government action to prevent more tragedies.

It is an effort we support, especially with the terrifying statistic that there are an estimated 16,500 young people in Scotland today with an undiagnosed heart problem.

A quick test could save lives – and it would give Stuart’s family the small comfort of knowing they have played their part in halting a silent killer.