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Victims of Crime (Code of Practice)

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department has taken under the code of practice for victims of crime. (95103)

The code of practice for victims of crime came into force on 3 April 2006. It sets out the standards of service, support and information to which victims are entitled. A number of Home Office agencies and other criminal justice agencies are required to provide services under the code of practice:

Police forces—initial identification of all vulnerable or intimidated victims; keeping victims up to date on at least a monthly basis on progress in their case; informing all victims when a suspect is arrested, bailed or charged; referring victims to Victim Support.

The Crown Prosecution Service—notifying victims about decisions not to bring any proceedings following receipt of the full evidential report and of any decision substantially to alter or drop any charge.

Witness Care Units—meeting the minimum requirement for passing on all court results received from courts to victims.

Her Majesty’s Courts Service—ensuring court results get passed to Witness Care Units.

Youth Offending Teams—contacting victims, where relevant, to discuss their involvement in a restorative justice intervention; keep victims informed about the progress of the intervention if they wish.

The Prison Service—maintaining the telephone helpline for victims to call if they have unwanted contact from a prisoner.

The Probation Service—meeting their statutory obligations to keep certain victims informed of the key stages in an offender’s sentence and to find out if those victims wish to make representations about licence conditions.

The Parole Board—must consider any representations that victims have offered to the Probation Service on the conditions to be included in the release licences and information regarding the victim that relates to the current risk presented by a prisoner in deciding whether or not to grant or recommend release.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority—must respond to all correspondence regarding applications for compensation no later than 20 days from receipt of the letter; inform the applicant of their right to a review of their decision.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel—must respond to all correspondence relating to the appeal case no later than 20 days from receipt of the letter; ensure explanations for appeal decisions are available to applicants.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission—must consider the extent of contact to be made with the victim and if they decide to contact the victim they should update them when the case in under review and if requested notify them of their decision.

Vulnerable and intimidated victims are entitled to an enhanced level of service under the code. If victims feel they have not received the level of service to which they are entitled, they have a route of complaint to the agency concerned. If the response from the agency is not satisfactory, victims can complain to the parliamentary ombudsman via their local MP.

The Office for Criminal Justice Reform provided support to Local Criminal Justice Boards in implementing the code during the months leading up to its introduction.