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BLOG: We have the chance to ensure victims’ rights are clearly upheld in law

The Victims' Commissioner welcomes the commitment to consult on new victims' legislation and says "the clock is ticking" for all criminal justice agencies to deliver on the rights in the new Victims’ Code.

This article first appeared in the Daily Express on 1 April 2021.

The launch today of the government’s new, simplified Victims’ Code is a real positive step forward for victims of crime.

The Code sets out the services and information victims of crime are entitled to from criminal justice agencies — like the police, CPS, and the courts — from the moment they report a crime to the end of the trial and, in some cases, afterwards.

This new, simplified Code includes 12 overarching rights, which are well set out and should provide some much-needed clarity for victims and victims’ services.

A problem in the past has been that earlier Code rights were not set out in law and were, too often, treated more like optional extras rather than legally enforceable rights.

So, I am really pleased that the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, has today signalled his commitment to consult on victims’ legislation this summer.

With a Victims’ Law we have the opportunity to ensure these rights are clearly enforceable in law. This would bring in mechanisms to hold agencies to account, with real consequences for when they let victims down.

We can make strides elsewhere, too.

Victims have a right to make a complaint if any of their rights are not met, yet too often they don’t know where to turn. We need a single complaints system for victims of crime. But this is just the start.

The government has committed itself to strengthen victims’ rights and, with a Victims Law on the horizon, there is now a real opportunity to transform the victim’s experience of the justice system.

The Ministry of Justice is determined to drive improvement of the victim’s experience and to restore faith in our justice system. The clock is now ticking for all the criminal justice agencies to make sure they take the first step and deliver on the rights in the new Victims’ Code.

Victims deserve no less.