Policy

Victims of crime

Issue

The proper protection and support for victims of crime is a fundamental part of a civilised justice system.

But, despite improvements over the last 2 decades, the system has continued to fall short in helping victims recover from crime, supporting them through the stresses of investigation and trial, and providing the right support at the right time.

Actions

We will ensure that victims get the support they need to cope with the aftermath of a crime by:

  • helping victims who need the most support: victims of serious crime, vulnerable and intimidated victims, and those who are persistently targeted
  • increasing spending on victims’ services, with extra money coming from offenders themselves
  • making the criminal injuries compensation scheme more financially sustainable and directing it towards seriously injured victims of violent crime
  • strengthening victims’ rights by revising the Victims’ code of practice and the Witness charter
  • promoting the use of restorative justice to provide the opportunity for the victim to explain the impact of crime and seek an apology from the offender
  • developing a model for the commissioning of victims’ services where some services are commissioned nationally (such as rape support centres), whilst others are commissioned locally, tailored to local needs
  • ensuring that vulnerable and intimidated victims and witnesses feel able to give their best evidence in the investigation and court stages of a case, by using special measures such as screens to prevent witnesses from seeing defendants, and the removal of wigs and gowns by judges and barristers

Background

In 2012 the government appointed a Victims’ Minister and created the role of Victims’ Commissioner

On 13 November 2012, 41 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were elected across England and Wales to oversee how crime is dealt with in their community.

PCCs will be responsible for commissioning the majority of support services for victims, taking account of the needs of their local community.

Who we’ve consulted

In January 2012 the government ran a public consultation ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses’ on proposals to make sure victims and witnesses get the support they need to overcome the consequences of crime.

It set out plans to make offenders take greater responsibility to repair the harm they have caused, through financial reparation and restorative justice. It also consulted on proposals to reform the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

The government’s response, published in July 2012, contained reforms to develop better services for victims.

In March 2013 the government published a consultation, ‘Improving the code of practice for victims of crime’ that set out the government’s plans to reform the victims’ code to better tailor services to individual victims, adding for the first time restorative justice and the victim personal statement. The consultation closed on 10 May 2013.