Victims’ Rights amendments passed in House of Lords.

On 12th December 2016, a number of amendments drafted by Voice4Victims as part of their Victims’ Law campaign, were voted on by Peers in the House of Lords and the Government was defeated.

The Bill will now return in January 2017 to the House of Commons and we anticipate that the Government will either support these much needed amendments or offer a compromise. It would be astonishing if the Government chose to oppose these amendments as they would then be perceived by the public as anti-victim and that their manifesto commitment of a Victims’ Law made in 2015 was a broken pledge.

Some of these amendments include:

• The right to information at every stage of the justice process
• The right to not be discriminated against or prejudiced from accessing justice
• The right to not be subjected to unnecessary delay
• The right to challenge decisions that directly impact the victim’s safety
• The right to a case companion
• The right to attend and make representations to any pre-court hearing to determine the nature of the court proceedings

In addition, the amendments creates a professional regulatory body which has the power to accredit any victim support or treatment service to ensure that the organisations adhere to strict codes and ethics. This body has the power to ensure that all victims’ rights, outlined in the amendments, are upheld and enforced and gives it the power to investigate any complaints in a timely way and has the power to impose sanctions if these rights are breached.

The amendments also places a duty on the secretary of state to publish and implement a strategy to provide training for all relevant professionals and agencies on the impact of crime on victims including understanding stereotypes and myths that need to be recognised and challenged.

Finally, the amendments would ensure that Victims finally had legally enforceable rights which would dramatically improve their experience of the justice process and help them recover quicker from the impact of the crime.

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