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Victims’ Commissioner responds to HMCPSI consultation on draft business plan for 2021-2022

Dame Vera Baird welcomes the plans, which outlines proposals to undertake an inspection of the service received by victims and witnesses throughout the court process.

Dame Vera Baird has written to Chief Inspector of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, Kevin McGinty, commenting on the HMCPSI draft business plan for 2021-2022. The business plan outlines proposals to undertake an inspection of the service received by victims and witnesses throughout the court process.

In her letter of 26 January 2021, the Victims’ Commissioner welcomes these plans, particularly in light of the growing body of evidence that victims are becoming disillusioned with the criminal justice process. She writes that this has led to the disengagement of victims, resulting in a threefold increase in the proportion of prosecutions not pursued due to the withdrawal of the victim’s support.

In her letter, the Victims’ Commissioner offers to share feedback from an online survey of victims previously conducted by the Victims’ Commissioner. In addition, Dame Vera urges HMCPSI to engage directly with witnesses with regards to the variability of experience at court.

The Victims’ Commissioner flags the issue of the CPS’s communications with victims prior to trial. She highlights that often sensitive and technical communications are delegated to police officers, who do not necessarily have the knowledge or understanding to best communicate the information or offer advice or guidance to the victim.

The Victims’ Commissioner goes on to welcome the HMCPSI’s proposal to look more deeply into the Domestic Abuse best practice framework and CPS decision-making and the Victims’ Commissioner strongly urges the Chief Inspector to consult with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner on the matter.

Dame Vera calls for an inspection of all aspects of the Victims’ Right to Review, outlining that this should include looking into decision-making methodology, communication with victims and consideration of victim representation.

Finally, Dame Vera writes of the need to review the role of digital download and third party material, the CPS’s role and their compliance with procedures in approaching this material.

You can read the letter in full here.