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Victims Code

Volume 575: debated on Tuesday 4 February 2014

13. What effect he expects the victims code to have on the experience of victims in the criminal justice system. (902386)

15. What effect he expects the victims code to have on the experience of victims in the criminal justice system. (902388)

The victims code will have a positive effect on the experience of victims in the criminal justice system. The new code gives victims clearer entitlements; a louder voice, including a right to read a victim personal statement aloud; enhanced entitlements for victims of the most serious crime, and vulnerable or intimidated and persistently targeted victims; and a more effective means of redress.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. How will he make sure restorative justice measures are truly victim-led and that those who wish to seek restorative justice at a stage later than the sentencing process will be able to do so easily?

I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that of the money the police and crime commissioners will be using, up to £18 million is specifically ring-fenced for restorative justice services. That funding will help us to ensure that restorative justice is available at all stages of the process so that victims can make properly informed decisions about whether they want to participate in restorative justice at the point in the process that best serves their needs.

What assessment has the Minister’s Department made of how the victims code will support the victims of human trafficking?

The new victims code provides an enhanced service for victims of the most serious crime and that includes victims of human trafficking. This will enable them to have quicker updates on the status of their case and to have referral to pre-trial therapy and counselling, which is often appropriate in those cases.

The Minister must have seen in the national newspapers this morning the incidents of alleged rape and how in some parts of the country there is very poor follow-up of these allegations. Will his victims code help those women who have been raped and then find that the police do not take their case seriously enough?

I agree that the point made in this morning’s reports is very serious, and I can assure the House that it is not just the victims code that will help. We have written to PCCs and chief constables encouraging them to use these recently issued data in conjunction with the data on referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service to improve all forces’ response to rape. We have also involved the Director of Public Prosecutions in setting up a scrutiny panel to look at how forces deal with rape in certain areas.

The criminal investigation into the Hillsborough disaster is still ongoing, but a very great number of people undoubtedly suffered, as we saw on last night’s “Newsnight”—I hope the Minister and Secretary of State will watch it if they have not already done so—when the survivors told their harrowing stories. May I simply ask the Minister to confirm that his Department will make available all support necessary to bring them justice as soon as possible?

When the hon. Lady refers to my Department, I should point out that it is the Home Office, where I also have a responsibility, that leads on Hillsborough. We are absolutely determined to do what she says through the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation, which is ongoing, and the coroner’s action, which is due to start next month. I know the families are very much looking forward to those as a way of getting to the truth.