Meeting with the Victims Minister: 6 February
The Ministry of Justice is the main government department responsible for commissioning and funding services to support victims of crime. Dr Phillip Lee MP is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Youth Justice, Victims, Female Offenders and Offender Health.
Meeting Date: 6 February 2017
Funding Settlement for Victim Services
The Victims’ Commissioner (VC) raised the recent exchange of correspondence between her and the Minister, where she had requested that consideration be made to giving Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) a three- or four-year indicative budget, as opposed to the current arrangement of annual funding settlements. She remains concerned that annual funding was causing uncertainty for providers and staff and this was distracting from service delivery.
The Minister re-iterated that he wanted a better evidence base showing that resources were being spent effectively to provide support for victims.The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is working on providing this evidence base. If the evidence shows funds were being spent effectively then the intention was to provide long-term funding. The VC will request progress reports at future meetings.
National Victim Strategy
The VC confirmed that she looked forward to feeding in to the National Victim Strategy. The Strategy would be ready for publication by early 2018.
The VC advised the Minister that all criminal justice agencies had responded positively to her proposed campaign to improve victim awareness amongst staff working in the criminal justice system. A steering group has been set up and the intention is to have an outline plan in place by the spring.
The VC asked that there be a National Victims’ Awareness Week. The intention is that the Decency Pledge campaign be launched during the course of this week. There was a discussion on the appropriate timing. MoJ officials will look into this and report back.
Victims and the Mental Health Review Tribunal
The VC has written to the Presidents of the English and Welsh Mental Health Review Tribunals (MHRT) requesting a meeting to discuss how the Victims’ Code might be extended so that victims have the same entitlements before the MHRT as they do before the Parole Board. The VC was concerned that these victims were being “left out in the cold” and that action needed to be undertaken to remedy this. She will keep the Minister informed of her progress.
Victims’ Commissioner’s Reviews
The VC referred to the recent publication of her review into the Victim Personal Statement (VPS). She remained very concerned that only 15 per cent of victims could recall being offered a VPS a year after her main review was conducted, and that this was unsatisfactory.
She was awaiting the government’s response to her initial VPS Review (published November 2015). She was keen to see the “common script” being finalised and issued to police and other agencies as soon as possible.
She was planning to issue her review on child victims’ entitlements under the Victims’ Code later in the month.
Justice Select Committee
The VC informed the Minister of her two recent appearances before the Justice Select Committee (JSC). The JSC were particularly interested in her strategy, the resourcing of her office and how she was able to influence government policy and practice.