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Victim Support Schemes: Counselling

Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (1) how many victims of miscarriages of justice and their families have been offered post-traumatic stress counselling in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement; (141507)

(2) how many prisoners were released after the quashing of their convictions by the Court of Appeal following a reference from the Criminal Cases Review Commission in each of the last five years; what support and after care they were offered; and if she will make a statement.

We do not collect data on the number of prisoners released after the quashing of their convictions by the Court of Appeal.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) an executive NDPB which was set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 and which became operational in January 1997 aims to review alleged and suspected miscarriages of justice, and to refer them to the Court of Appeal, whenever they consider that there is a real possibility that a conviction, verdict, finding or sentence would not be upheld.

Support and after care is offered to victims of miscarriages of justice from the Miscarriages of Justice Support Service, operated by the Citizens Advice Bureau at the Royal Courts of Justice, by the Ministry of Justice. It is funded under a three-year contract. It aims to ensure that victims of miscarriages of justice receive appropriate advice, guidance and support. Advice and support is offered at every stage of the process. This includes: finding accommodation; establishing income; applying for national insurance credits; registering with a GP and accessing appropriate healthcare and counselling; opening a bank account and budgeting; family/relationship issues; employment and training needs; finding a solicitor to deal with compensation claims.

All clients of the Miscarriages of Justice Support Service are offered counselling as part of their initial assessment interview with an adviser. In the past 12 months, 25 new cases have been taken on by the service, and seven clients have received an assessment by a consultant forensic psychiatrist. Following assessment, the psychiatrist refers the client for appropriate ongoing counselling. Families are not part of this assessment, but the psychiatrist may recommend that they are involved in family therapy if appropriate.