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Victims of Crime

Volume 614: debated on Tuesday 6 September 2016

It is crucial that victims of crime are supported as effectively as possible. The victims code was revised in 2015. Victims of all criminal offences are now entitled to support from a wide range of organisations, as well as from criminal justice agencies. The reforms we are making to our courts will significantly improve services for victims and their families—for example, to enable them to give evidence remotely and digitally.

More than 23,000 individual crimes have been reported in Enfield during the past 12 months. For far too long, the victims of these crimes have been forgotten and ignored by the criminal justice system. Given that the Victims’ Commissioner supports the introduction of a law for victims of crime, when will the Government fulfil their election manifesto commitment to bring forward legislation on this issue?

We want to make sure that all vulnerable and intimidated witnesses can give their best evidence in court and feel less anxious. We are committed to making sure that victims of crime get the support they need. We have protected the overall level of funding for victims across the spending review period, and we announced funding of more than £95 million in 2016-17 to fund critical support services. We will bring forward our legislation, as promised, in due course.

Victims of crime want to see the perpetrators of that crime properly punished. Is the Minister happy that prisoners are automatically released halfway through their prison sentence no matter how disruptive they are or how much of a threat they still pose to the public, or does he agree with me that prisoners should serve the sentences handed down by the courts in full?

The purpose of justice and the primary goal of the justice system must be to reduce reoffending. If somebody in prison has been assessed, is deemed not to be a risk to society and has been properly rehabilitated, it is in the best interests of that individual and of society for that person to be released.

Too often the victims of criminal driving and their families are not actually treated as victims of crime, but told that they have been involved in an accident. How can that culture be changed, and when, finally, will we get the review of sentencing for these types of offences?

I do not believe that that is in my purview, but if the hon. Gentleman writes to me I will by all means reply to him on the issue. I agree that victims in such situations need more protection and that the culture needs to change.

One of the best ways to ensure that justice is served is to ensure that victims have the chance to make a victim impact statement to the court, but that does not always happen. What can the Minister do to ensure that it happens in every case?

As I understand it, victims are now getting more of an opportunity to make a victim impact statement because they can do so online. I agree with my hon. Friend that that should be possible.

As has been mentioned, today’s report on violence against women and girls shows an increase in prosecutions. However, victims charities remain concerned about their futures, as was stated by the chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Supporting Victims Group when asking the Ministry earlier this year to clarify what funding is available to PCCs. The Minister told my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) that he will be “keeping an eye on this matter”. With respect, keeping an eye on the matter is not good enough. Will the Secretary of State now confirm that victims services will receive the full funding that they require?

The victims services budget has increased significantly from £48 million in 2010-11 to about £95 million in the current financial year. In 2016-17, for example, we have allocated about £7 million to 99 rape support centres to provide therapeutic and practical help to male and female victims of rape and child sexual abuse. I do not recognise the description given by the shadow Secretary of State. The Government are committed to protecting victims, particularly women who have been victims of crime.