PCCs: Victims need a greater voice in policing and the criminal justice system
The APCC’s Joint Victims Leads Donna Jones and Sophie Linden have welcomed the launch of a Government consultation into its Victims’ Bill.
They said: “A Victims’ Law has been a long time coming. Police and Crime Commissioners have long-championed the importance of enshrining victims’ rights in law to ensure every single victim of crime receives the response, support and care they deserve right the way through the justice system. PCCs are elected to be the victims’ voice in policing and the criminal justice system. We know that for too long, too many victims have felt like bit-part players in a system which should be putting their needs first.
“We look forward to actively engaging in the consultation and helping to shape this important legislation on behalf of victims.
“As commissioners of victims’ services, PCCs can and will continue to provide high quality bespoke services to support to all victims of crime. We have long called for more sustainable funding to enable us to do even more. So, we welcome the potential for an increase to the Victims Surcharge which offenders are ordered to pay on sentencing to be used to support national and locally commissioned victim services. It is important that perpetrators are made to pay for the harm they have caused and it is only right that their money is used to directly support services which help victims’ recovery.”
On new measures designed to improve conviction rates for rape, the Joint Leads added: “These are complex cases to bring to court. We owe it to victims to do all we can to make their journey through the criminal justice system as swift and smooth as possible. Greater use of pre-recorded video evidence at crown court trials will help by negating the need for victims to appear in person. It is important however that there is adequate investment in the court estate and personnel to deliver these changes or they risk making the already appalling crown court cases backlog worse.
"Equally, if we are to reduce attrition and help more victims get justice, it is vital that vital services to support victims of crime throughout their case receive the funding they need to meet demand.
“We also welcome the publication today of the first national scorecards for Rape And Serious Sexual Offences. Using data to better understand where and why cases are stalling, and exactly where in the process victims are giving up, means we can implement practical measures which will improve national case attrition and see more victims remaining engaged with the system.
“And localised scorecards, if used correctly, could help us go even further by tackling issues in our own areas in a targeted way. As chairs of Local Criminal Justice Boards, PCCs have a key role to play in bringing partners together to improve performance on behalf of victims and our local communities.”