Running until 3 February 2022, the Ministry of Justice consultation is now open to the public and seeks to understand how victims can be better supported through and beyond the criminal justice process across England and Wales.
On Thursday 9 December, the Ministry of Justice launched the Victims’ Bill consultation, aimed at improving victims’ experiences of the justice system.
The consultation can be found online and will run for eight weeks until 3 February 2022. It seeks to understand how to improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system across England & Wales and marks the first significant step towards a landmark ‘Victims’ Law’ – ensuring all victims of crime receive the support they need through and beyond the criminal justice process.
Responding to the announcement of the Victims’ Bill consultation, the Victims’ Commissioner for England & Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, said:
“The criminal justice system has a key role to play in helping victims recover and rebuild their lives. Yet all too often victims are treated as an afterthought, with their needs ignored and neglected.
“The government’s Victims’ Law represents a once in a generation opportunity to drive real culture change, requiring agencies to see, hear and help victims – if necessary, with real consequences if this does not happen. I welcome the commitments outlined today and I look forward to working with government to make this a reality.”
The consultation is open to the public and the Ministry of Justice is keen to hear directly from victims, frontline practitioners, criminal justice system partners and other organisations who work with victims.
In February 2021, the Victims’ Commissioner published her Victims’ Law Policy Paper, setting out her ambitions for the long-awaited legislation. Contained in the document’s 34 recommendations are calls for the government to put victims’ rights on a proper statutory footing, with monitoring and compliance mechanisms to hold agencies to account; to lay out in law the role and rights of victims as participants in the criminal justice system; and to establish a single unified victims’ complaints system.
This followed earlier independent research by the Victims’ Commissioner, which examined the current powers and duties of the Victims’ Commissioner and makes a number of recommendations to help the Victims’ Commissioner fulfil her statutory obligations, which could be introduced in the Victims’ Law.
The Victims’ Commissioner also commissioned independent research comparing best practices in the treatment of victims across five countries that have similar adversarial regimes to that of the UK. It found that England and Wales lagged behind in providing substantive victim participatory rights and identified measures to inform the Victims’ Law.
Read more on the Victims’ Law:
- The Victims’ Law consultation website
- The Victims’ Commissioner’s Victims’ Law Policy Paper
- Report: Constitutional powers of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales
- Report: The role and rights of victims of crime in adversarial criminal justice systems: Recommendations for reform in England & Wales