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Page Category: About us


Dame Vera Baird, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales

Find out about the role of the Victims’ Commissioner.

Read about the Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird.

A picture of Katie Kempen, the CEO

Katie Kempen, Chief Executive Officer

Katie Kempen took up post as CEO at the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner in June 2021.

Katie joined the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner from the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA), where she was the Chief Executive. The ICVA leads, supports and represents local volunteer schemes, who make unannounced visits to police custody in order to check on the rights, entitlements and wellbeing of detainees and to prevent ill-treatment in detention.

Katie joined the ICVA from a background in victims’ services having provided national policy support to reforms that devolved responsibility for commissioning services from the Ministry of Justice to Police and Crime Commissioners. Katie has previously commissioned local specialist services and has a background as a trustee for a domestic abuse charity.


Tom Cracknell, Communications & Stakeholder Manager

Tom Cracknell is responsible for all external communications for the Victims’ Commissioner, including press and media, digital communications, campaigns and external affairs.

Tom has a background in government communications and policy and joined the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner from the Ministry of Justice, where he was a Senior External Affairs Manager.

For media enquiries, see the Contact section.

Reviews and Analysis

Dr Sarah Poppleton, Head of Reviews and Analysis

Dr Sarah Poppleton leads our reviews of victims’ services, to ensure victims and witnesses receive compassionate treatment and their full entitlements under the Victims’ Code.

Her background is in public sector social research. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology and carried out academic research on work and wellbeing before specialising in research into criminal justice matters since joining the Civil Service.

Sarah’s previous role was Principal Social Researcher at the Sentencing Council for England and Wales, carrying out research on sentencing behaviour and sentencing guidelines.

Sarah works part-time, with her non-working day on Thursday.

Madeleine Storry, Senior Research Officer

Madeleine Storry joined the Reviews and Analysis team at the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner in July 2021. Madeleine joined from the Ministry of Justice where she was a Senior Researcher in the Data and Analytical Services Directorate.

Prior to her career in the Civil Service, Madeleine was in academia where her specialism was in prison research. She is in the final stages of completing her PhD which explores the gendered aspects of ageing in prison.

Madeleine works condensed hours, with her non-working day on Friday.


Beccy Shortt, Policy Manager (VAWG)

Beccy is responsible for the Victims’ Commissioner’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) policy work. Beccy advises on VAWG issues, including compiling briefings for policy-makers, responding to government consultations, engaging with VAWG stakeholders and assisting the Commissioner to best represent the interests of survivors.

Prior to joining the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner, Beccy worked in the VAWG sector in both policy and legal adviser roles. Beccy has a legal background, having started her career as a criminal law solicitor.

Beccy works part-time, Monday to Wednesday.


Joss Mistry, Correspondence Manager

Joss is the Victims’ Commissioner’s Correspondence Manager. She assists the Victims Commissioner in all correspondence and communications from victims and witnesses of crime who want to share their experience of the Criminal Justice System.

Joss has worked extensively across a number of government departments with over 15 years of case-working, operational policy and training experience, within the Ministry of Justice.

Joss works part-time, from Tuesday to Thursday.

Diary Management

Natasha Pizzuto, Diary Manager

Natasha has managed the Commissioner’s diary since May 2019. She joined the team from the Citizens Advice Witness Service, where she provided support and information to victims and witnesses at court and prior to that worked with survivors of domestic abuse.

Natasha works part-time, Monday to Wednesday.

The Victims' Commissioner has 5 strategic aims.

Aims of the Victims Commissioner

1. Expect humane treatment of victims

Work with all criminal justice agencies to ensure that crime victims and witnesses are treated with humanity and decency at all times, to aid their ability to cope and recover from the impact of crime.

2. Champion the Victims’ Code and Witness Charter

Monitor and report on criminal justice agencies’ compliance with the requirements of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and the Witness Charter, identifying areas that are deficient and making recommendations based on evidence of best practice.

3. Review services and make recommendations

Review the provision of victim services on the basis of the four principles identified in ‘What Works’, namely: communication, procedural justice, interagency cooperation and professionalisation, and make recommendations on how services should develop and improve.

4. Be the voice of victims

Through regular contact with victims and practitioners of victims’ services, articulate a view of the criminal justice system from the perspective of victims, review and challenge decisions taken by policy makers and those responsible for developing practice.

5. Promote best practice in victims’ services

Through gaining first-hand knowledge and understanding of victims’ services, identify and actively promote examples of best practice and excellence.

Dame Vera Baird

Dame Vera Baird was appointed the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales in June 2019.

I want all victims to be treated with dignity and respect, to be kept informed, and to get quality services to help them cope and recover, wherever they live. I will use my influence and experience to make strong recommendations and help to deliver much-needed, essential reforms. I intend to be a powerful advocate for change.
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales

Speaking with authority

Dame Vera has spent her working life fighting injustice and is a long-term champion for victims’ rights.

Her first-hand experience of the criminal justice system, first as a criminal barrister, then MP and later government Minister and Solicitor General. Before becoming Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera was the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northumbria. Her wealth of experience means that she can speak with key partners in a voice that will be heard.

Champion of change

Dame Vera is the former Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria (2012-19).

Dame Vera spent much of her working life as a criminal barrister. She was called to the Bar in 1975 and took silk in 2000. She served as Labour MP for Redcar from 2001 to 2010, with a period on the front bench as a government minister from 2006 to 2010.

Dame Vera was appointed Solicitor General in 2007, a position she held until the general election of 2010. As the House of Common’s most senior law officer, Dame Vera was closely involved in criminal justice policy and legislation and played a key role in taking the Equalities Act 2010 through its House of Commons stages.

In recognition of her service to women and equality, Dame Vera was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2017.

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales is dedicated to improving how the criminal justice system works for all victims and witnesses.

The role of the Victims’ Commissioner is to:

  • raise awareness of the common issues faced by victims and witnesses
  • monitor how criminal justice and victim support agencies comply with the Victims’ Code and Witness Charter
  • conduct detailed research and produce comprehensive reviews
  • use their independent voice to influence national policy-making and hold partner agencies to account
  • speak up about what works best for all victims and witnesses, and especially the most vulnerable

Raising awareness

The Victims’ Commissioner meets regularly with government, criminal justice and support agency officials to highlight what works well and to advocate for change where the system needs improving.

Monitoring compliance with the Victims Code and Witness Charter

The Victims’ Code and Witness Charter explains the minimum standard of service that agencies must provide to victims and witnesses at each step of their journey through the justice system. The Commissioner works to promote good practice and strengthen victims’ rights. You can find out more in our guide on what to expect if you’re a victim of crime.

Research and reviews

The Office of the Victims’ Commissioner conducts detailed research and produces comprehensive reviews to get a better understanding of everyone’s experience of the justice system. This information is used to inform and make recommendations for positive systemic change. The Commissioner also writes an annual report, which explains the work of their office to date and sets out future priorities. Find our reviews and publications in the Our Work section.

Influencing policy

The Commissioner is independent from government, which means they are free to give their opinion to key policymakers on how the justice system could be more efficient, easier to understand and to access. The role is explained in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

Speaking up for victims

The Victims’ Commissioner speaks up about what works best for all victims and witnesses, and especially the most vulnerable. While the Commissioner is not permitted, by law, to advise on individual cases or to challenge any decisions made by criminal justice agencies, feedback from victims of crime is important, as this information helps build a better understanding of the issues, which informs the Commissioner’s wider policy work.

Read about the current Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird.

For a selection of some of the work we do and publish, see the Our Work section.