Criminal Proceedings: Victims

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 7 March 2024.

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Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Victims and Sentencing)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent steps his Department has taken to improve communication with victims on (a) individual court cases, (b) sentencing and (c) custodial circumstances of offenders who perpetrated crime against them.

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

The Victims’ Code sets out the services victims are entitled to receive in England and Wales from criminal justice agencies, including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, Courts, and Probation Services. This includes being provided with information by the police’s Witness Care Unit about the progress of their case, including the date and time of any hearings and the outcomes. If there is a conviction, the Witness Care Unit will tell victims about the sentence. Any questions a victim has about the sentence will be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. Bereaved families of victims of homicide can also meet with the crown prosecutor.

Victims who are eligible to join the Victim Contact Scheme, which are victims in cases where the offender receives a sentence of 12 months or more for a for a specified violent or sexual offence, will be given information about the prisoner by His Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service’s Victim Liaison Officers, such as whether they are eligible to move to open conditions and when they are going to be released.

More widely, the Victims and Prisoners Bill has measures to improve how the services under the Victims’ Code are delivered, by improving data collection and sharing, strengthening local and national oversight of performance, and increasing the transparency of how the criminal justice system delivers for victims. We will publicly consult on the draft for the new Victims' Code after the Bill has completed its passage through Parliament. As part of that consultation, we are open to whether further updates may be useful, including to how communication with victims might be improved.

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