Victims Code Reform consultation ticks victims’ rights off the government agenda but is the job now done?

Whilst the reform of the victims code sets out to explain the criminal justice process to the victim and outlines the journey the victim can expect, it is just a ‘code’, a signpost if you will and nothing more. By its own definition, the code is not legally enforceable and therefore, ‘If a service provider fails to provide you with the services that you are entitled to under this Code that does not in itself make the provider liable to any legal proceedings.’

Therefore, how is the proposed reform a significant advance on the current code that is in place? Sadly it is not.

How can the code properly safeguard the rights of victims of crime?

It can’t – even though this should be its primary purpose!

Agencies can and will continue to ignore the code either through lack of awareness of what is in it or because agencies fail to do their job properly. Louise Casey, former Victims Commissioner rightly said ‘ ..victims are afforded vague codes and unenforceable charters, with no real route of complaint’. This code is being updated and reformed, but this appears to be little more than a tweaking of the current code, which holds very little weight legally as none of it is enforceable and agencies can expect nothing more than a ‘point of the finger’ when they fail to meet the standards set out in this code. Therefore, does this code show a real care, understanding or commitment to victims in this country?

In my opinion, the government is taking the approach of spending or rather, wasting time , energy and resources on reforming something that will prove to be meaningless. Personally, ALL agencies have breached the victims’ code many times during my case. As a victim, I was given the option to write a complaints letter and after receiving a long winded apology letter which offered me no redress, then what? It was then up to me to navigate through a complicated complaints system in order for the Parliamentary Ombudsmen to hear my complaints. But I ask the question again, then what? Sadly, nothing. Mistakes are made again and there is no incentive on these bodies to do anything more than apologise. The victim, however is left in the soul destroying position of being treated with little or no respect by the very agencies that are supposed to ensure that they receive justice. The code, like this government, in relation to victims rights, shows no backbone, no teeth nor real commitment to the victim.

Showing a commitment to the rights of victims and giving agencies the clear message that treating victims in a manner that only exacerbates their pain and suffering must not be tolerated, is quite straightforward: place victims’ rights into statutory law to ensure ALL criminal justice agencies have to do their job properly and therefore, ensure victims basic rights are upheld within the criminal justice process. Many MP’s from all parties have claimed to want to place victims’ rights first and at the heart of the criminal justice system. Sadly, just empty words with no meaning otherwise a victims rights bill would be a reality.

If you are a victim of crime or work with victims, by all means spend your time answering the questions on this victims code reform consultation and do make your views heard. But, if you are truly dedicated to victims and the rights of victims in this country, then you should be asking the same question – why are we reforming a code that is legally unenforceable and repeatedly ignored when we could be doing this job properly and placing victims rights into statutory law?

Victims Code Reform Consultation>>


  1. I believe I am currently being stalked and harassed by my neighbour’s. I believe included as one form of stalking is the frivolous/vexatious civil legal process they are presently putting us through. I say vexatious as they have just submitted lots of false evidence and a signed statement containing serious allegations in effect, damning their case. Therefore, I believe winning is not the primary goal, the sole purpose is to continue to harass us, which of course it does effectively and perhaps in their eyes, legitamately.

    I would like to see early intervention to stop this kind of behaviour in it’s tracks. As soon as it can be shown that a civil legal process has been damaged with fabricated evidence then there should be a clear route in place to be able to criminally prosecute under the fraud act. If this happened then perhaps people would think twice before initiating frivolous/vexatious law suits and victims would be someway protected against future frivolous claims.

    • Voice4Victims says:

      Dear Sue

      If your neighbour continues to use this route as a way of harassing you , and the claims are vexatious, then you can get a civil restraint order which is given to those that make vexatious claims.

      Should the harassment persist in other forms as well, then do make a note of all details of harassment and go the police as the Protection From Harassment Act is there to help victims experiencing harassment.

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