Vera Baird appointed Victims Commissioner
The police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Northumbria is to step down next month to take on the role of Victims’ Commissioner.
Dame Vera Baird has long been an advocate for victims as Solicitor General in the last Labour government, as PCC and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ lead for supporting victims and reducing harm.
Dame Vera takes over from Baroness Newlove in mid-June 2019.
She was first elected PCC for Northumbria in 2012. Under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, the Northumbria Police and Crime Panel is required to appoint someone to the role but discussions are ongoing as to who could step in as Dame Vera does not have a deputy. It is expected to result in a by-election even though the next PCC elections are due to take place next year.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “The role of the Victims’ Commissioner is greatly valued across the justice system, and its importance has only strengthened under the tireless work of Baroness Newlove.
“I very much look forward to working with Dame Vera in continuing to drive the best possible support for victims across every stage of the justice system.”
Justice Minister Edward Argar added: “Throughout Dame Vera’s career she has demonstrated a constant commitment to ensuring victims of crime have the best possible experience of the criminal justice system.
“I look forward to working with her to build on the foundations laid by Baroness Newlove’s unwavering dedication to improve how we support victims and witnesses.”
Dame Vera’s responsibilities will include promoting the interests of victims and witnesses, ensuring that their voices are heard and holding government to account on delivery of its commitments.
She said: “I am delighted to be appointed Victims’ Commissioner. It is an honour to have the chance to work with victims and witnesses to ensure that their voices are heard everywhere it matters.
“I will be their champion and I will work with government and the criminal justice agencies to implement the Victims’ Code when it has been updated, to bring national guidelines to local victim services, which are delivered so well by my colleague PCCs, and to make the justice system responsive to victim needs, whilst ensuring fair trials.
“I will be very sad to leave my role as a PCC and my super staff, and all we achieved together with Northumbria Police. This new role will help me to build on my experience of victim and witness needs that I gained as a PCC and when I was in government.”
Dame Vera Baird’s appointment will last for three years.
Baroness Newlove said: “I am delighted Dame Vera has been appointed to succeed me. Throughout the past six years I have had the opportunity to work closely with Vera in her capacity as PCC for Northumbria and as chair of the Victim Portfolio Group in the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.
“Vera is a passionate and articulate advocate for victims, particularly the most vulnerable. She brings to this post huge experience and understanding of the criminal justice system, both as a lawyer and a former Solicitor General. I know she will work tirelessly and be a powerful voice for victims.
“I look forward to supporting her in the years to come.”