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Victim Support Schemes

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps his Department has taken to improve support for families of murder victims. (268417)

In January 2009 the Government appointed Ms Sara Payne as Victims’ Champion to ensure that the views of victims and those bereaved by homicide are heard. The Victims’ Champion has been meeting with victims of all crime types to better understand what works well in the system and where there is need for further reform. Ms Payne will feed these views to Ministers throughout the year.

Since October 2007 the CPS has offered bereaved relatives a pre-trial meeting with the CPS prosecutor to answer any questions they may have. They also offer the option of the prosecution advising on and reading out the family impact statement in court, enabling the family to express how the crime has affected them.

The Office of Criminal Justice Reform has recently updated the information pack “information for the bereaved” given by Family Liaison Officers to bereaved family and friends following murder and manslaughter. This pack provides useful information about decisions and arrangements bereaved families and friends may need to make. It also explains how the Criminal Justice System works and the role of the police, the coroner and the courts. It provides contact details of various organisations and support groups to which bereaved families and friends can be signposted. The updated guide is due to be published in May.

The Office for Criminal Justice Reform has been working closely with Support after Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM) to develop the services the charity provides to victims of homicide and improve awareness of victim needs within partner organisations, particularly the police service. SAMM staff and volunteers deliver training to family liaison officers and other statutory agencies who provide direct support to those bereaved through homicide.

SAMM receives a grant of £140,000 a year from the OCJR to deliver services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps his Department has taken to improve support for those injured in road traffic accidents where another person or persons has been found criminally liable for their injuries. (268419)

Under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (2004), victims of road traffic incidents are referred by the police to Victim Support for dedicated one to one support. This includes victims of traffic incidents where someone has been found liable for a criminal offence.

Since 2007 the Government have provided significant additional investment to Victim Support (£12.6 million) to enable the organisation to either deliver services directly to victims or to commission additional, tailored services for victims that it may be unable to provide itself.

In addition each family will be assigned a police family liaison officer who will work with the family throughout the investigation. The FLO—Family Liaison Officer—will assist the family by liaising with any support services they may need.

In all road traffic incidents involving serious injury or death the police will provide a copy of the bereavement guide which is funded by the Government and produced by the charity, Brake. The guide provides useful information that is relevant both to those seriously injured and those who are bereaved.

Since October 2007 the CPS for cases involving homicide and qualifying cases involving road traffic the CPS has offered bereaved relatives a pre-trial meeting with the CPS prosecutor to answer any questions they may have. They also offer the option of the prosecution advising on and reading out the family impact statement in court, enabling the family to express how the crime has affected them.