Appointed on 16 October 2023, Baroness Helen Newlove was named as the interim Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales for a one-year term.
In her role as Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove is responsible for championing the interests of victims and witnesses of crime, reviewing the operation of the Victims Code of Practice (the Victims’ Code), and advising and holding government and other criminal justice agencies to account. She will undertake reviews into victims’ services and report on how agencies are complying with the Code of Practice for Victims.
As Victims’ Commissioner, she will also regularly meet and lobby with heads of criminal justice agencies, ministers, chief constables, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), victims organisations, parliamentarians and voluntary groups to improve how the criminal justice system works and to deliver better treatment for all victims and witnesses.
A key part of her duties will be scrutinising the Victims and Prisoners Bill as it progresses through Parliament, ensuring it serves its purpose to improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system.
Baroness Newlove brings a wealth of experience, having previously served as the Victims’ Commissioner for six years. She originally took up the post in March 2013, was reappointed for a second term in March 2016, and stepped down in May 2019.
During her time in office, she laid the groundwork to enshrine victims’ rights in law and led important reviews on anti-social behaviour, the Victim’s Code, and reforms to the Parole system. She also campaigned to improve victims’ experiences in court and give them a voice throughout the criminal justice process.
Baroness Newlove draws on her extensive personal experience of the criminal justice system. She became a prominent community campaigner and activist after the tragic murder of her husband, Garry, by a gang of youths outside their family home in 2007. This was the culmination of a long-running campaign of youth violence in their community.
Following Garry’s death, she campaigned tirelessly to tackle anti-social behaviour and the underage and binge drinking culture. In recognition of her achievements, she was appointed Government Champion for Active, Safer Communities in 2010, where she worked with local people to make communities safer and to find solutions to local problems. In that same year she was nominated for a peerage by the Prime Minister David Cameron in the Dissolution Honours list and now sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Newlove of Warrington in the County of Cheshire.
She is a renowned keynote and after dinner speaker, having addressed the United Nations, Government committees and spoken regularly in the House of Lords. She also serves in a voluntary capacity as Pro Vice Chancellor of Bolton University and has also authored a memoir about the murder of her husband and her journey to become a passionate campaigner for victims’ rights.
Following the end of her tenure as Victims’ Commissioner in 2019, Baroness Newlove took up the office of Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords on 5 March 2021, where she has continued to champion and amplify the voices of victims.