Baroness Helen Newlove to commence new one-year term on Tuesday 17 October 2023.
The Ministry of Justice has appointed Baroness Newlove as the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales.
Baroness Newlove, who previously served two terms as the Commissioner from 2013 to 2019, will be in post for 12 months, the Ministry of Justice announced on 16 October.
In her role as Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove will champion the voices of victims and witnesses, ensuring their concerns are heard and that the government upholds its commitments to them. As a victim of crime herself, Baroness Newlove brings personal experience of the criminal justice system to the role.
A role independent of government, the Commissioner is expected to act as an advisor to ministers on victim policy, champion victims’ interests and hold the government and justice agencies to account. The role does not presently possess any statutory powers, but Commissioners can use their platform to advocate for change.
Responding to the announcement, Baroness Newlove said: “I am honoured and it is a privilege to be re-appointed Victims’ Commissioner for the coming year.”
“I know first-hand the emotions and the pain victims experience on their journey through the criminal justice system. I am also aware of the many challenges they have faced in recent years. That’s why I am so passionate about championing their cause. I want to see their needs and rights at the forefront of our criminal justice system.”
Baroness Helen Newlove is a community campaigner and activist. She came to prominence in 2007 after Garry Newlove, her husband, was attacked and murdered outside their home and in front of his family as part of a long-running campaign of youth violence in their community. Following his death, Baroness Newlove campaigned at the highest levels, calling on authorities to act on anti-social behaviour.
In recognition of her campaigning and achievements, Baroness Newlove was appointed Government Champion for Active, Safer Communities in 2010 and nominated for a peerage by then Prime Minister David Cameron.
Baroness Newlove brings a wealth of experience as Victims’ Commissioner, having previously served for six years in the role from 2013 to 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.
As Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove will play a crucial role in 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.
The Bill is set to enshrine the principles of the Victims’ Code in law. The Victims’ Code sets out the minimum level of service victims can expect from criminal justice agencies such as the police and courts, whether they choose to report the crime or not.
Under proposals within the Bill, victims will have the legal right to be kept informed and challenge decisions that directly impact them, to benefit from a simplified process to make formal complaints, and to have access to vital support services.
The Victims and Prisoners Bill is also set to bolster the role of the Victims’ Commissioner by requiring criminal justice agencies to publicly respond to their recommendations and set out the rationale for accepting or rejecting them.
Looking ahead, Baroness Newlove said: “My priority this year is to ensure the Victims and Prisoners Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, truly delivers for all victims. I want to see this Bill transform the victim experience so that victims feel heard, respected, and supported throughout the criminal justice process. This has long been my aspiration and this Bill is an opportunity to make it a reality.”
“I look forward to continuing my work as the voice of victims, working with Ministers, criminal justice agencies and the organisations supporting victims to promote best practice in victims’ services.”
Baroness Newlove’s term will end on 17 October 2024. A recruitment campaign for a permanent Victims’ Commissioner role will be launched by the Ministry of Justice in due course and will conclude in Summer 2024.