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Support for Victims

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 18 October 2022

Our victims Bill will improve support for victims of crime, so they can cope with and recover from the impact. It will help them remain engaged with the criminal justice system and strengthen the transparency and accountability of those agencies and authorities that should be there to protect them.

I thank the Minister for her comments, but I want to raise something specific that could be done through the victims Bill, which is to ban the use of victims’ counselling notes in courts. In July, the Attorney General extended the guidance, making it easier for such notes to go into the public domain. That has had a huge and immediate chilling effect on victims getting pre-trial therapy and on them coming forward at all. Please can the Minister address this.

The hon. Lady raises a vital issue to which we are paying close attention through the work of the rape review. It is not the case that it is now easier for those notes to be requested. I am aware that the hon. Lady is holding an event this afternoon. I would be very happy to come along, talk to her and put right some of the points she has made. We are determined to improve the experience of victims of rape and we are making great strides already.

While the Government derail the economy and crash the markets, victims and survivors are still being abandoned. This Government are too busy trying to save their own skin to care about what is happening to victims. One survivor told me her partner sexually assaulted her and abused her child. Her truth was misbelieved and mistrusted. She never got her day in court. Now she is just one of many Jane Does denied justice and traumatised by the criminal justice system. These are the victims being failed by this Government’s negligence, and now we have a victims Bill going nowhere. Will the Minister tell victims when she is finally going to put them first and bring forward a Bill?

This Government are determined to stand behind victims of crime. That is why, as the hon. Lady knows, the Justice Committee has carried out detailed pre-legislative scrutiny. We are reviewing that very carefully and we will bring forward the victims Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.