Victims of Crime

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 3rd February 2015.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We published “Our Commitment to Victims” in September 2014. In addition, I chair the victims panel, and we will bring forward a victims law. On Thursday, I launched TrackMyCrime, which, for the first time, will enable victims to track their crime as it passes through the criminal justice system. Across the House, we should congratulate Avon and Somerset constabulary on piloting and bringing forward this initiative.

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

In November, the Minister wrote to me to say that this Government had decided to be “silent” on the rights of murder victims abroad, so that they did not have to do anything to help the families secure justice. The Minister will try to talk about the new directives for victims, but why have the Government been silent about the rights of the British taxpayer, Tyrell Matthews-Burton, and yet have spoken up for others?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I have met the hon. Lady, and I know that she is passionate—and quite rightly so—in speaking up for her constituents and victims. As she knows, it is about the definition within the law as it was, and it is no good attacking this Government, because it was exactly the same for the 13 years under the previous Government. We are making the changes.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Conservative, Basingstoke

Increasing numbers of victims are victims of crime committed online. Many have experienced disturbing and threatening behaviour. What steps are the Government taking to support victims of that type of crime?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the campaigning work she has done on this subject. The type of crime she describes is just as illegal if it is done online as it would be if it was done face to face. We are trying to support everybody, but there are difficulties, not least in getting people to come forward. TrackMyCrime will help. If a crime has been perpetrated in a domestic situation, for instance, people can get the e-mails at work; it is their choice where they get the information from.

Photo of Julie Hilling Julie Hilling Opposition Whip (Commons)

Further to that point, what discussion has the Minister had with colleagues in the Home Office about how victims of cybercrime and other fraud are being treated by Action Fraud, when they are not even told whether their case is being investigated, let alone prosecuted?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I am a Minister in the Home Office, as I am sure you are aware, Mr Speaker, as well as the Ministry of Justice, so I am very close to this issue. Through TrackMyCrime people will know exactly where in the criminal justice system their case lies. Across the House, we should congratulate Avon and Somerset on bringing forward the initiative, which is now in 43 police authorities around the country.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons

The Minister of State is not omnipotent; he is nearly ubiquitous—a point of which we have been reminded several times today. We are aware of the sheer scale and extent of his responsibilities.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

We have already legislated to increase the duty on sentencers to consider compensation from offenders to their victims. We have taken powers to increase the amount that can be attached against benefits in future, so that the sums are actually paid to victims. We are increasing work in prisons so that prisoners can earn resources that can be paid to victims. Will the Minister tell us what progress is being made on delivering compensation from offenders to victims of crime in reality?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I am proud to say that we have just announced that there will be £40 million extra each year on top of the £50 million compensation already paid. A lot of that money comes from the perpetrators of crimes. We hope to get more money from offenders, and we are working to ensure that that happens.