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Victims (Protection and Support)

Volume 594: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2015

14. What steps the Government have taken to provide greater protection and support for vulnerable victims during trials. (908099)

Last September, we published “Our Commitment to Victims”, a key plank of which is supporting vulnerable victims and witnesses in court. We are doing so by establishing non-court locations for vulnerable witnesses to give their evidence using a live link, evaluating the pilots of recorded pre-trial cross-examination—I am very much of the view that that should be extended nationwide if the trial proves successful—and strengthening the training requirements for publicly funded advocates in sexual offence cases.

My constituent Jane Clough was murdered by her ex-partner Jonathan Vass while he was out on bail. I have been very fortunate to be able to work with Jane’s parents, John and Penny Clough, in their successful fight to change the law to allow vulnerable victims to challenge judge-made bail decisions. Will my right hon. Friend confirm to the House that the provision is being used, and that vulnerable victims are being protected because of that change in the law?

I commend my hon. Friend for his work in this important area. He is referring to the provision that allows Crown court decisions to grant bail to be challenged in the High Court. That exists largely through his efforts and those of John and Penny Clough, whom I also commend. The provision is used sparingly, as was intended, but bail decisions are being reversed, from time to time, as a result.