On 29 March, the Government launched the “Improving the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime” consultation.
The Government want to do all they can to ensure the right services and support is in place to help victims through what is often a sensitive, worrying and emotional time. Last year we published our response to the “Getting it right for victims and witnesses” consultation in which we made a commitment to revise the current code of practice for victims of crime (“victims’ code”).
The victims’ code sets out the services to be provided in England and Wales by criminal justice agencies to enable victims to receive the support they need. The current code is written with criminal justice agencies in mind, rather than victims. The revised code is set out in a more user-friendly style structured around the criminal justice process. This enhances victims’ understanding of the process, with victims’ entitlements clearly set out at each stage.
Every victim will be entitled to a minimum level of service under the revised code. We have also outlined an enhanced service in the revised code for three categories of victim most in need: victims of the most serious crime, the most persistently targeted and vulnerable or intimidated victims. This approach will help victims to get the right support at the right time. It also provides greater flexibility to allow agencies to tailor services according to individual need.
There is a new section of entitlements dedicated to victims under the age of 18 which is easy for children, young people, parents and guardians to understand. The code will also for the first time include:
The victim personal statement, which gives victims an opportunity to describe the wider effects of the crime upon them, and thus give them a louder voice in the criminal justice system;
A separate section for businesses who will be able to submit an “impact statement” to explain how a crime has affected them;
Information on restorative justice for victims of adult offenders.
A clear and transparent complaints process to provide quick and thorough responses to victims.
A copy of the draft victims’ code will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. Further information on the consultation can be found on the Ministry of Justice website at: www.justice.gov.uk.