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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 11:38 am on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department 11:38 am, 16th October 2019

Let me continue, specifically on victims. My time as co-chair, with Sarah Champion, of the all-party parliamentary group on victims of crime gave me deep respect for those who dedicate their lives to representing victims of crime and for the strength and determination of the victims themselves. I thank members of the APPG with whom I have worked, and I have also followed their work. They have supported many victims of crime, and include the hon. Members for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell), for Darlington (Jenny Chapman) and for West Lancashire (Rosie Cooper). We are committed to ensuring that victims receive the help and support they need to cope and recover and, importantly, to giving them a voice and to giving a voice to those who sometimes cannot speak out for themselves.

We will now accelerate plans to enshrine in legislation the rights to which victims are entitled, as set out in the victims code. We recognise that rights are meaningless without the means to enforce them and we want to legislate to ensure that where criminal justice agencies have failed to provide victims with their entitlements they are held to account. This includes increasing the powers of the Victims’ Commissioner, already a powerful advocate for victims’ rights. We will also legislate for a new victims law, to be consulted on early in the new year. This will be testament to the bravery of all those who have spoken out and given a voice to the voiceless.

Although we will be tougher on prisoners who are unco-operative, we must also recognise that the majority of inmates simply want a second chance and an opportunity to rebuild their lives after a custodial sentence. We cannot allow our prisons to become factories for making bad people worse. We need to reduce overcrowding, strengthen security and do more to educate and rehabilitate prisoners. We must invest in turning people’s lives around through education and training and do more to integrate ex-offenders back into society so that they themselves can rebuild their lives. That is why, as well as investing up to £2.5 billion in prisons for an additional 10,000 places, we are addressing the health and wellbeing issues, raising levels of educational attainment and skills, and rebuilding and reinforcing the relationships offenders have with friends and family.