Transparency of the Parole Board and Victim Support - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:32 pm on 9th January 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Newlove Baroness Newlove Deputy Chairman of Committees 3:32 pm, 9th January 2018

This weekend has been quite emotional. I have done a lot of media, speaking for victims, and this case has raised a lot of issues from a lot of agencies that victims do not get support. First and foremost, they do not have any legal rights. However, I welcome the Government’s commitment to the review on the transparency of the Parole Board. I have had meetings with Nick Hardwick, and that is something that we have been discussing. I have asked for transparency, so that, as in appeal courts, we get a judgment set down that people can see. That is an area that we can look at and which I shall push forward with my team.

In addition, I ask my noble and learned friend to agree that the victims’ contact scheme must be radically reformed, not just with guidance and persuasion. That raises another important issue mentioned in the Secretary of State’s Statement, where he says that,

“the National Probation Service has no record of any requests for discretionary contact”.

That gives me a red alert. Victims are constantly let down by not getting the right communication, so it does not give me any comfort to say that nobody even thought of these individuals as human beings. I ask my noble and learned friend to look at the victims’ contact scheme in a radical way, because there are victims in whose cases there was no conviction.

Is this about changing the law to ensure that we can stand up on stilts, or will it be about treating people with human decency and dignity? At the end of the day, for someone such as me, who found out that the media knew about a judgment in my husband’s case before my family and I did, I can tell your Lordships that that that leaves scars for ever. I want to ensure that all the victims, in this case especially, get that discretionary informing of the full facts so that they can get on with their lives and feel safe and secure, because only that gives us public protection standing up in bold letters for everybody in our community.