Victims of Crime: Support

Justice – in the House of Commons at on 20 February 2024.

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Photo of Caroline Ansell Caroline Ansell Conservative, Eastbourne

What steps his Department is taking through the criminal justice system to support victims of crime.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Since 2010, we have ramped up support for victims in three main ways. First, we have driven down reoffending from around 31% to 25%, so that fewer people suffer the misery of becoming a victim of crime in the first place. Secondly, we have created new offences such as stalking, coercive and controlling behaviour, revenge pornography, upskirting and non-fatal strangulation, so that those who betray trust and shatter lives can be held to account. Thirdly, we have quadrupled victim funding, enabling massive investment in resources such as independent domestic violence advisers, which are up from barely existing in 2010 to more than 900 today, and we will go further with the groundbreaking Victims and Prisoners Bill as well.

Photo of Caroline Ansell Caroline Ansell Conservative, Eastbourne

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for all the sterling work that he has just outlined, which is making such a huge difference to victims everywhere. I wish to talk about a case that was raised with me at an advice surgery. After seeing an advert on the tube, my constituent—a man of very good standing—invested in what turned out to be a fraudulent company to the tune of £93,000. He was clearly a victim of crime and, mercifully, his bank reimbursed his life savings after some challenge. He did get financial restitution, but the whole experience had wider, devastating impacts. Those behind the company were registered in Serbia and, to the best of our knowledge, have never been brought to justice. As my constituent did not go through the full criminal justice system, may I ask how victims such as he can be supported in cases like this?

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

I thank my hon. Friend for raising her constituent’s case. Fraud is a pernicious, cruel crime and it can have an appalling impact, as I know from my own experience of prosecuting for the Serious Fraud Office. To support victims in recovering lost funds, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 gives the Payment Systems Regulator further power to mandate reimbursement where needed, and I am glad that that took place in this case. But to bring wrongdoers to justice, prosecutors, including the CPS, the Financial Conduct Authority and the SFO, regularly co-operate with their international counterparts to make arrests and secure evidence overseas so that, in appropriate cases, defendants can be extradited to face trial in the UK. The other critical point is that the victims code has been expanded, so that people such as her constituent can get the support they need. I would invite him, perhaps through the hon. Lady’s good offices, to look at the support that is available online.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Is the Secretary of State aware of a new crime that is spreading throughout the north of England, including in your constituency, Mr Speaker, and in mine? A group is preying on people who have cavity wall insulation. Those people get themselves into the legal process and find the expenses are so high that they have to sell their home. It is an epidemic. It is also rather like the Post Office scandal. This is an early warning of a major scandal. Will the Secretary of State agree to look into this matter as it is very important, especially in the north of England?

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that matter on the Floor of the House. He will understand—I know that he well appreciates this—that it is not for the Secretary of State to be ordering investigations, but, plainly, the matters he raised are serious. I invite the police and prosecutors to take all appropriate steps to investigate it if that is what is required.