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Crime: Victims

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps his Department has taken to improve the services provided to victims of crime. (258855)

The Government have a comprehensive strategy to help victims of crime access appropriate services. We recently appointed a victims champion who will listen to the views of victims and the community and make recommendations on how to improve the system.

Since introducing a statutory code of practice for victims of crime which established minimum rights for victims, we continue to embed best practice across the CJS agencies. This includes working with local criminal justice boards to ensure they have comprehensive victim and witness strategies that make a difference on the ground.

We recognise the importance of working with third-sector organisations to deliver direct services for victims. We recently provided additional funding for the national organisation Victim Support to introduce an improved business process, so that victims can be contacted more quickly, have their needs assessed and offered a wider range of practical services than was previously available.

The Government have invested further resources into specialist services for victims. This includes sexual assault referral centres, independent domestic violence and sexual violence advisors and national and local specialist third-sector organisations. We have also made legal changes that will impact on certain victims: for example we ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against the Trafficking in Human Beings creating minimum protection rights.

The recently published Youth Crime Action Plan sets out how we will improve support for young victims of crime. The plan has been developed jointly between the OCJR, Ministry of Justice, the Department for Children Schools and Families and the Home Office.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority’s major reform programme completely overhauled the case working processes. This included the introduction of geographically based teams; a new in-house telephone support service and the development of a new case working model placing greater emphasis on applicant support and focussing resources at the front end of the case working process.