Victims and Witnesses

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th June 2018.

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Photo of Damien Moore Damien Moore Conservative, Southport 12:00 am, 5th June 2018

What steps his Department is taking to improve the court experience for victims and witnesses.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We want to improve the court experience for everyone, including victims and witnesses. We now have video links in many courts that allow victims and vulnerable people to take part in criminal proceedings without having to meet the defendant face-to-face in court.

Photo of Damien Moore Damien Moore Conservative, Southport

What steps are being taken to ensure that victims and witnesses who give evidence in court are provided with access to counselling and other mental health services?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My hon. Friend is right to identify the fact that we need to support vulnerable people who go through the justice system. That is why we will spend about £96 million this year to support and fund services such as the ones he identifies, including pre-trial visits and funding for police and crime commissioners to commission local services, including rape support services.

Photo of Ruth George Ruth George Labour, High Peak

Has the Minister made an assessment of the report by the Justice Committee that raising the small claims limit would represent an unacceptable barrier to justice for victims of road traffic accidents, workplace accidents, and public liability incidents? Will the Department revisit those proposals in that light?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

It is important that all people, whether they have small claims or big claims, have access to court. One measure that we have already brought in is the small civil claims court, which enables claims to be brought online very quickly, often without the need for legal representation.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

Notwithstanding Tommy Robinson’s gross contempt, does the Minister understand the level of public unease into he tapped?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

That is a very important issue and I am very happy to discuss it with my right hon. Friend.

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

I did not hear that. It would be most helpful if the Minister would look at the House as she answers, because I was looking forward to savouring the reply but unfortunately did not hear it. [Interruption.] You are going to have a chat with the fella about it. That is very useful to know. We are deeply grateful.

I just say to disappointed colleagues who did not get in on substantive questions that they might with advantage stay for topicals. I know they are very busy with many commitments and very full diaries, but if they feel able to hang around, they might find it to their advantage.