Victims of Crime

Justice written statement – made on 29th October 2013.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) , The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

Today the Government have published a new Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Victims' Code).

The Victims' Code applies to all victims of criminal offences under the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) and sets out the services to be provided to victims of crime in England and Wales by criminal justice agencies.

The old code, written in 2006 was in need of revision as it was out of date and did not meet victims' needs - that is why the Government committed to review the code in the response to the 'Getting It Right For Victims and Witnesses' consultation in July 2012.

From 29 March to 10 May this year the Government held a public consultation on “Improving the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime”, seeking views on a draft code. The 197 responses received helped to inform the drafting of the new Victims' Code published today.

The new Victims' Code is written in plain English with victims of crime as the target audience. It meets the Government's commitment to deliver an accessible code that works for victims. It is structured around the journey victims of crime face when they come into contact with the criminal justice system and sets out the information, services and support they can expect to receive at every stage of the process. This includes enhanced entitlements for victims who are most in need, namely:

victims of the most serious crime; persistently targeted victims; and vulnerable or intimidated victims.

Key improvements to the new Victims' Code include:

Strengthening the voice of the victim by putting the Victim Personal Statement under a statutory code for the first time and giving an entitlement to victims to choose whether they would like to read their statement aloud in court or to have it read aloud on their behalf if the defendant is found guilty.

A separate chapter for businesses and an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to make an impact statement so that their voice is fully heard.

Information on restorative justice for victims of adult offenders for the first time. This includes a duty on criminal justice agencies to meet existing quality standards and put in place robust safeguards to ensure repeat victimisation does not occur.

An improved complaints process so that victims are better able to hold criminal justice agencies to account if things go wrong.

A new dedicated section for victims under 18 and their parents and guardians written in an accessible way.

An automatic referral of all victims to support services has been retained in the final version of the code. This change to the consultation version of the code will ensure consistent and immediate access to support services is provided to all victims.

It is crucial to the success of the new Victims' Code that victims, criminal justice practitioners and victims' organisations are fully aware of the services and support that victims of crime are entitled to receive. The Government are developing a wide-ranging communications package to raise awareness of the code, including leaflets on the code in various formats including EasyRead; a YouTube video and educational materials for use by schools, local government and voluntary organisations. This will help to make sure victims know what they are entitled to and that criminal justice agencies fulfil then obligations under the code.

A Statutory instrument will be laid in November, which will bring the code into force in December.

Copies of the new Victims' Code are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The Government Response to the consultation has been deposited in the libraries of both Houses. More information on the code and relevant consultation documents can be found on the Ministry of Justice website at: https://consult.justice. gov.uk/digital-communications/code-victims-crime.