Every year over eight million crimes are committed in England and Wales. Sadly, that means many of us, at one time in our life, will be the victim of a crime.

Based on our experience of supporting tens of thousands of people affected by crime every year, we have set out five priorities for the next government.

Victims and survivors need the next government to:

  1. Invest in support services for all victims

There is a pressing need for more, better-funded victims’ services.

Crime has an enormous impact on people’s health, wellbeing and finances. Independent support services play a vital role in helping victims to cope, recover and navigate a complex justice system.

But there are still significant gaps in support services, across the country. In some areas, specialist services have been de-commissioned and replaced by ones run by the police. Provision also differs greatly across the country, creating a post code lottery when it comes to support.

The next government must ensure that victims and survivors of any crime can access support from a specialist independent victims’ service, whenever they need it.

  1. Ensure victims have timely access to justice

Victims urgently need the next government to tackle the twin issues of long wait times and multiple adjournments.

Going to court can be traumatic, forcing victims to relive painful experiences in public and potentially face the defendant. Long waits compound these fears – some feel unable to keep going with their case.

Many also face their trial date being moved multiple times, often at short notice. People prepare themselves for court, only to be let down and made to adjust their expectations about when the ordeal will end.

Lengthy wait times are a long term problem within the criminal justice system. We want to see ambitious targets set to bring down the court backlog and waits for trial.

  1. Bring victims’ rights into action

Victims want rights which exist on paper to exist in reality.

Anyone who experiences crime has rights under the Victims’ Code – such as the right to be referred to support services, make a Victim Personal Statement and be provided with information. However, a wealth of evidence has found that victims are routinely not receiving these rights.

They need the next government to prioritise enforcing the Victims’ Code and ensure these vital rights are delivered.

  1. Take a joined-up approach for VAWG survivors

We need a society-wide response to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG). With the majority of victim-survivors not reporting to the police, this must go beyond a criminal justice response.

The scale of VAWG is staggering. It is estimated that 1.1 million adults, the vast majority of them women, experienced sexual assault last year, and that 2.1 million people, again the vast majority women, experienced domestic abuse.

Statutory sector bodies including health, housing, social services, education, welfare and others all have a vital role to play in responding to VAWG and supporting survivors. A wide range of specialist victims’ services are also essential for VAWG survivors, working with them to meet their needs and address their safety.

A priority for the next government must be to take a holistic approach to tackling VAWG and supporting survivors, and to ensure greater join-up across the government departments and public services that work with them.

  1. Close the gaps for victims of anti-social behaviour

The next government must prioritise antisocial behaviour (ASB) by funding proper support services and ensuring agencies take responsibility for resolving cases.

Last year more than a third of the population experienced or witnessed some type of anti-social behaviour and the police recorded a million incidents. However, reporting ASB can be the start of a difficult and frustrating process, lacking in support and resolution. Too often victims fall through the gaps.

The approach of government is commonly to focus on prevention and management of those who perpetrate ASB. We are calling on the next government to also prioritise those who become victims and ensure that they no longer fall through the gaps. Agencies must take responsibility for working with victims and the government must ensure that funded support services with clear referral routes are in place.

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