Victim Support, along with a group of campaigners, have written an open letter to the justice secretary Alex Chalk, to express deep concern that the victims’ commissioner post has been vacant for a year. You can read our letter below.
Dear Rt Hon Alex Chalk KC MP,
We are writing to express our deep concern that as of this week, the post of Victims’ Commissioner will have been left vacant for an entire year – with no indication that a new appointment is imminent.
This void where there should be a strong advocate for victims and survivors has never felt starker given the current crisis in our criminal justice system.
Victims and survivors face chronic backlogs at court, with hundreds waiting as long as six years to have their case heard, and charging rates at an historic low. These excruciating delays not only jeopardise access to justice, but cause extreme anguish for victims and survivors, whose wellbeing suffers immeasurably as their lives are put on hold.
At the same time, public trust in the police is rapidly declining, especially amongst women and girls, and people from Black and minoritised communities. Rooting out police perpetrated abuse is one of the biggest challenges faced by policing leaders.
Against this backdrop, it is utterly essential that victims have an independent advocate who can speak on their behalf, with the authority to challenge decision makers and effectively advocate for their rights.
Furthermore, the failure to appoint this role as the landmark Victims and Prisoners Bill passes through Parliament is an affront to victims and survivors. This legislation will shape their rights for decades to come. Yet during the most crucial period for debate and scrutiny, there is no Commissioner in post to hold the government to account and help shape this long-awaited Bill.
The government has repeatedly voiced its commitment to improve the experience of victims, but failing to appoint a Commissioner suggests an unwillingness towards actually being held accountable for doing so.
This situation is unacceptable and neglects the needs of victims. The government must rectify it by appointing a new Victims’ Commissioner with the urgency it requires.
Katie Kempen, CEO, Victim Support
Farah Nazeer, CEO, Women’s Aid Federation of England (Women’s Aid)
Sara Kirkpatrick, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid
Sir Peter Wanless, Chief Executive NSPCC
Lynn Perry MBE, CEO, Barnardo’s
Amelia Handy, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Rape Crisis England & Wales
Saskia Garner, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Joshua Williams, Head of Policy and Communications, National Youth Advocacy Service Nina Champion, Director, Criminal Justice Alliance
Lucy Jaffé, Director, Why me?