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Victims of Crime

Volume 715: debated on Tuesday 24 May 2022

We are increasing victim support funding to £185 million by 2024—almost double the amount in the 2020-21 core budgets, and more than quadruple the victims funding in the last year of the last Labour Government.

Will my right hon. Friend expand on the specifics for victims of an alleged crime who are under 16 and who attend the same school as the accused? Are there opportunities to expedite such cases, which typically take years to progress?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the particular vulnerability of children in such cases. The courts already have the power to prioritise cases, for example those with a particular risk of the victim or a witness being intimidated. The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for schools and others makes it clear that they can take appropriate measures to safeguard children, which can include transfers to and from schools where necessary.

The Thames Valley police and crime commissioner, Matthew Barber, provides excellent support to victims of crime through his office’s Victims First support service. One challenge that he faces is that the Ministry of Justice does not allow victims funding to be used to support victims of antisocial behaviour. That is a real concern for my constituents in Bracknell. Might the Secretary of State be willing to review the policy?

I pay tribute to the work of Commissioner Matthew Barber. In 2022-23, we are providing PCCs with £69 million of core funding to commission victim support services. How they allocate the funding is at their discretion, based on their assessment of local need, but it can include services to support victims of ASB that reaches the threshold of a criminal offence. As my hon. Friend will know, we are consulting on new powers for courts to consider community impact assessments in trials so that the blight and oppression that antisocial behaviour causes in whole communities can be properly factored in.

Ryan Passey was tragically killed in 2017, at the mercy of a perpetrator with a knife. The case went to court and the perpetrator was acquitted, which was considered a bizarre verdict. You will be pleased to hear, Mr Speaker, that I and the Passey family have secured a review of the police investigation. That review is ongoing, but the family feel let down by the lack of support after the trial, at the time when they most needed it. They have lost their only son, but had no support despite the verdict. Will my right hon. Friend meet me and the family to understand how improvements can be made in the provision of support for victims’ families, not just during an investigation but after the verdict, particularly when a bizarre verdict is given?

My deepest sympathies go to the family and friends of Ryan Passey. I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing an independent review; I will be happy to make sure that she can see an appropriate Minister.

We have made £130 million available this year to tackle serious violence. As my hon. Friend will know, the latest data shows a 4% decrease in recorded cases of knife crime. On post-trial support, we are providing £4.6 million a year in funding for the national homicide service, which provides a range of services, including counselling and emotional support, that can continue as long as is needed for a bereaved family, including after trial.

The Secretary of State will be aware that I have worked across Government for many years to secure support for victims of crime, particularly victims and survivors of child abuse and sexual assault. I welcome the introduction of the victims Bill, the enshrining in law of the victims code and the Secretary of State’s commitment to funding, but we need more sexual assault referral centres, more independent sexual violence advisers and more special measures in courts; indeed, we need more courts and prosecutors. Has the Secretary of State done the analysis to show that the money he is bringing forward will cover all that?

I am pleased to see, in the context of the latest data, that rape convictions are up 67% on the previous year. We will be bringing forward our response to the consultation on the victims Bill and the associated package very shortly. There will be a step change—a quantum leap—in the number of ISVAs and independent domestic violence advisers as a result of the settlement that I have secured with the Treasury. I am happy to give the hon. Lady specific details.

Over the years, many people have been coerced, often through violence, into being filmed in pornography that has been put online for people to see for years to come. Will the Government consider making provision in the Online Safety Bill for people to withdraw their consent and have that content removed from the internet?

The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point, which I will certainly convey to the Home Office in the context of the online harms Bill.

Four years ago, Jackie Wileman was tragically killed on her daily walk by four men joyriding a stolen HGV around Barnsley. The men responsible had 100 convictions between them. I pay tribute to Jackie’s brother, Johnny Wood, for his campaign to increase sentences for causing death by dangerous driving, and I welcome the change in the law, but Johnny has now been informed that one of the offenders may shortly be released from prison on temporary licence without the proper process being followed. Will the Secretary of State meet Johnny and me to discuss what more can be done to support victims?

I am not aware of the specifics of that case, but I take this issue very seriously. If the hon. Lady would like to write to me, I will ensure that we can not only address the specifics very carefully, but arrange for her to meet a relevant Minister.