We are pleased to see progress on the long-awaited Victims’ Bill, which we believe offers a real opportunity to deliver meaningful change for victims of crime. However, we are seriously worried that expanding the Bill’s scope to include prisoners will be a distraction and delay it even further. Public confidence in the criminal justice system is at rock bottom and the court system in crisis. Victims have been waiting years for this Bill – it is a vital opportunity to improve their rights – and we don’t want this focus to be lost.
The Bill contains a number of positive measures relating to victims. In particular we hope that proposals to enshrine the Victims Code in law will put victims’ rights into force and ensure that rights that exist on paper are delivered in practice. But the legislation must go further if it is to deliver for all victims. It must ensure that they have access to high quality support services that are completely independent of the police, and strengthen support for victims of antisocial behaviour.
The focus of this legislation must remain firmly and steadfastly on victims of crime and we look forward to working closely with the government to ensure that the Bill lives up to its promise.