Consultation aims to strengthen Victims’ Code
The Government has launched a consultation on strengthening the Victims’ Code after it emerged that only 15 per cent of victims said they were given the opportunity by police to make a Victim Personal statement (VPS), despite being one of the Code’s key entitlements.
Under the Code, all victims of crime – whether they choose to report it or not – are entitled to a range of support and information to help them cope and recover from its effects.
However, victims’ groups say the Code’s complexity and inconsistencies in the way it is applied across the country mean some victims are missing out on the support.
Ministers are now seeking views from victims, charities, criminal justice agencies and other interested groups on how best to raise awareness, as well as making the Code more clear and accessible so that it better meets victims’ needs.
Justice Minister Edward Argar said: “The Government’s commitment to better support victims of crime is clear today in our strengthening of the Victims’ Code. The nature of crime is changing, and the Code must keep up.
“Being a victim of crime can be life-changing, and how people are subsequently treated within the justice system, can make a huge difference in helping them recover.
“By strengthening the Code, we will give victims a louder voice in the process, ensure that they are better heard through their journey in the criminal justice system, and make sure they can access the support they need.”
Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird said: “For many victims their journey through the criminal justice system can be a frustrating experience with many unaware that they have entitlements, let alone what they are.
“This consultation offers an opportunity to change much of this. But this can only happen if the views of victims are heard and taken into account. I very much hope this consultation will provoke a lively exchange of ideas and that these will be the building blocks for a world class victim support.”
Proposals include greater clarity around victims’ rights, such as a right to be given information about the investigation and criminal proceedings and the right to make a VPS.
Launched on Wednesday (July 17), the consultation runs until September 11, and also aims to improve awareness that victims who do not report the crime or withdraw from the criminal justice process are entitled to the same support as those who do report it.