Inquiry into complaints alleging corrupt relationships between police and newspaper organisations

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 10th January 2017.

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Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing and the Fire Service) 5:15 pm, 10th January 2017

We are committed to introducing measures to strengthen further the rights of victims, and it is important that we have taken the time to get this right. We will announce our plans in due course. It is important to be clear that Lords amendments 138 and 139 are, therefore, similarly unnecessary, as the training of all staff in the criminal justice system is taken very seriously.

On Lords amendment 141, on quality standards, the Victims’ Commissioner’s role already encompasses encouraging good practice in the treatment of victims and witnesses, and the operation of the victims code, which is a detailed set of victims’ entitlements. In addition, police and crime commissioners, who commission local victims’ services, enter into grant funding agreements with the Secretary of State for Justice to receive the funds to do so. Those agreements set out a range of minimum standards for the services provided. We are currently reviewing existing standards relevant to victims’ services to make sure that we have the best possible framework in place.

The amendments, individually and taken together, are un-costed, vague and duplicative. They could impose significant obligations and financial burdens on the criminal justice system.

On Lords amendment 142, it is not clear what the purpose of directing a homicide review would be. In any case, it is unnecessary. There is already a statutory requirement for a review to identify the lessons to be learned from the death in domestic homicide cases.

Putting aside the many difficulties we have with the detail of the amendments, the Government are already looking at what is required to strengthen further the rights of victims of crime. We are looking at the available information about compliance with the victims code and considering how it might be improved and monitored. We are focused on making sure that we get this work right. We will ensure that any future reform proposals are evidence-based, fully costed, effective and proportionate.

As I have indicated, the intention behind many of the Lords amendments is laudable. On Lords amendment 134, we are persuaded that the case has been well made for increasing the maximum sentence for the more serious stalking and harassment offences involving fear of violence. I congratulate my hon. Friends on the work they have done on that.

As for the other Lords amendments, as a responsible Government we do not want to adopt a scattergun approach to legislation. Nor can we afford to be free and easy with taxpayers’ money by incurring substantial new spending commitments without offering any indication as to where the additional resources are to come from.