Victims’ Commissioner makes her submission to the Victims’ Code of Conduct Consultation

Today (22 May) the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC has responded to the Government’s consultation on the Victims’ Code of Practice.

The consultation on the Code – which sets out the services victims of crime can expect to receive as they progress through the criminal justice system – was launched by the Ministry of Justice last year.

As part of her submission the Dame Vera conducted a Victims’ Survey to which more than 400 people responded. Participants were asked to detail their experience of the criminal justice system after reporting a crime in the past three years.

The results of the survey will be published next week but she wanted their voices to come through in her response to the government.

“I welcome this review of the Victims Code and the plan to give victims statutory rights. This will send a clear message to criminal justice agencies that complying with the Code is not at their discretion, and the rights of victims must be respected at all times.

“However, the proposed changes, however welcome, do not go far enough. I am calling for:

  •  Victims of antisocial behaviour to be treated as victims of crime. The cumulative impact of persistent anti-social behaviour can be severe. At the moment, it is a postcode lottery whether these victims get the support they need – I want all victims to get support. 
  • Too many of the “rights” seem to be at the discretion of the service provider. The whole purpose for giving victims “rights” is that they unconditional. 
  • Research shows less than one in five victims are aware of the victims code. How can they hold criminal justice agencies to account if they do not know what they are entitled to receive. I want a duty to be placed on all Criminal justice agencies but specially the police to inform victims of their rights and give them a copy of the Code.
  • And the Victims Commissioner needs the power to call criminal justice agencies to account when they fail to deliver. She must be at the centre of a national system of collecting data about compliance, reporting directly to Parliament on compliance so that these rights can become real for victims.

“The Government has the opportunity to make a real difference to victims’ lives and fulfil its commitment to placing them at the heart of the criminal justice system it must take it,” she said.

The deadline for submissions to the Victims’ Code Consultation  is 28 May.

The Victims’ Commissioner’s submission letter to Alex Chalk MP can be read here and the annex here.

The full results of the Commissioner’s Victims’ Survey will be published next week.