Time for a Victims Bill

Victims Commissioner Report – victims are still being badly let down.

We welcome the latest report from the government which is a positive move in understanding how effective the revised victims’ code has been. It is evident from this report that the victims’ code is still being routinely ignored by many of the criminal justice agencies and is having little impact on victims who are failed and re-victimised by the Criminal Justice agencies. As Helen Newlove highlights, the complaints process is lengthy and complex and many victims are deterred from engaging in this procedure because of its complexity.

This report has identified the on-going issues that need addressing in order to help improve services to victims but as they come in the form of guidelines, it is missing the opportunity to truly strengthen victims’ rights. Despite these firmly identified gaps, there is no single legally enforceable route for the protection of victims.

Voice4Victims alongside other keys campaigners, Digital-Trust & MAMAAUK, remain clear that the strengthening of victims’ rights can only come via robust legislation. “We have had a victims’ code for many years and victims in this latest report, and those that completed our victims’ rights survey in 2014, agree that the code is not working effectively enough to protect their rights” says campaign lead, Claire Waxman, Voice4Victims.

The campaign team believes that Victims’ Rights should be placed in to statutory legislation and have drafted a bill based on the victims survey, current victims code, EU Directive and meetings with a number of victims organisations and services. The bill outlines over 25 specific rights for victims under the following key areas:

1. Advice
2. Treatment
3. Representation
4. Parental rights
5. Vexatious Claims
6. Disclosure
7. Compensation & Costs

The bill also defines an easy route for victims to complain and gain redress through a statutory body.

Elfyn Llwyd MP has tabled 20 questions in the house about the government support for victims. He will also attempt to introduce this as a Private Members Bill in February.

Claire Waxman states ‘‘We believe that the bill will help to enforce mandatory training of all agencies and the culture shift needed in order to place victims at the centre of the Criminal Justice process. ‘

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