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Victims of Crime

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 17 December 2013

This Government are committed to putting victims first and we will give victims a voice at every stage of the criminal justice system. It is crucial that victims receive the support and help they need to cope and, where possible, to recover. We are aiming to make up to £100 million available to support victims to recover, testing pre-trial cross-examination, considering how we might reduce the distress caused to victims by cross-examination in court and implementing the new victims code.

Most people I speak to think that the Victims’ Commissioner should be a full-time post. Why is it not?

The Victims’ Commissioner is doing admirable work. She is supporting the Government and she is capable of doing the work very well. I am already enjoying working with her to ensure that she continues to represent the interests of victims very well.

Can the Minister give me an update on the progress in providing funds for victims from prisoner earnings, which not only fulfilled an important manifesto commitment, but upheld the principle that criminals should pay victims for their crimes, not least when as prisoners they are earning?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Part of the extra money that is going to support victims in London and elsewhere comes from the proceeds of the Prisoners’ Earnings Act 1996. I am happy to tell him that whereas in 2011-12 some £332,000 went to Victim Support from this source, in 2013-14 the sum will be £825,000—more than two and a half times as much.

Victims of domestic abuse are placed at risk when forced to give their safe address in open court in unrelated proceedings. That not only places the individual at risk from the abuser, but deters the thousands of victims who suffer from domestic violence from reporting this horrendous crime. Does the Minister support Eve’s law, which seeks to address that anomaly, and will he work with the campaign to ensure its implementation in law?

I will happily consider that. The hon. Gentleman makes a reasonable point. It is for the judge to decide in each individual case, and it is not for Ministers at the Dispatch Box to decide what judges do in each individual case. We are already taking a range of steps to protect people who may be victims of domestic violence, and I am always happy to look at others.

On a similar point, the families of victims of capital crimes, as well as coping with bereavement, will usually be unaware of their rights and the responsibilities of authorities to assist them in protecting the memory, reputation, estate and so on of the deceased. What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the support available to victims’ families in such circumstances?

I think I know the case to which my hon. Friend is referring, as he and I have discussed it in Westminster Hall. He will be aware that I wrote to him on 4 December on the detailed issue. Victims of all kinds require support and are getting better support. As he knows, the specific issues related to cases such as he describes are being considered at present.