It is the right thing to do, but it is also essential on a practical level to ensure that, operationally, we have the most effective justice system possible.
After all, we can secure convictions and lower crime rates only if victims have the confidence to report crimes to the police and engage with prosecutors to ensure their testimony is heard in court.
For both reasons and at all levels, we must do better.
As it stands, too many victims feel that the criminal justice system does not do them justice.
Too many feel let down by the system, compounding the pain and suffering of the original crime.
In fact, it is worrying that up to three out of five victims do not even report a crime they have suffered.
A survey conducted by the Victims Commissioner shows that, based on their experience with the criminal justice system, a third of victims would not report a crime again.
The evidence shows that a third of the victims who go to the police will later disengage from the process.
In such cases, victims are not served justice and the public is exposed to criminals continuing to commit crimes. That must change.
I want to ensure that victims are at the very heart of the criminal justice system. Rather than feeling peripheral to the process, victims should feel supported so that they can adequately participate in each step.
Our plan to provide world-class service to victims has five crucial elements that we will deliver through the Victims Law.
First, we want to amplify the voice of victims and ensure that they participate appropriately at every stage of the criminal justice system. We want to make sure that agencies communicate better with victims. For example, we are consulting on the requirement that the prosecutor in certain types of cases communicate directly with victims before they decide whether to charge a suspect.
Second, we will increase transparency regarding the performance of our criminal justice agencies. We are publishing the first national criminal justice and adult rape dashboards. They will collect data to provide insight into the performance of all systems, including things that are important to victims, such as how long it takes to investigate cases and file charges.
Third, we want to ensure that there are clearer and more defined lines of accountability when victims do not receive the appropriate level of service. We will enshrine the Victims Code in law to send a clear signal about what victims can and should reasonably expect from the criminal justice system.
Fourth, we want to help victims rebuild their lives through accessible and professional services, and make sure that criminals pay more to support those services. We propose increasing the victim surcharge, which helps fund victim services; That will mean that criminals will pay more to correct their own mistakes and, in the process, help victims recover from what they have suffered.
Finally, we want to ensure that there are better tools to protect the victims and prosecute the culprits. We are already making significant progress, and I can announce that we are planning a nationwide deployment to expand the provision of pre-recorded section 28 cross-examination for victims of modern and sexual slavery to all Crown courts, with the specific priority of ensuring that rape victims across the country pre-register their evidence and avoid the ordeal of facing all the glare of the courtroom.
This government will offer credible change for the victims.
We will give you a more powerful voice at every stage of the criminal justice system. We will increase transparency and redress regarding the support they receive in practice.
We will ensure that each criminal justice agency is held accountable for its role in the overall system.
We will better protect victims, especially victims of rape and sexual violence, to give them greater confidence in giving testimony that can help secure a conviction.
We will make perpetrators pay more to help victims recover. That is our plan to provide victims with the justice they deserve.
Tom Pursglove MP is a Minister of Justice who presented a new strategy for victims to Parliament; this is an edited version.
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This notice was published: 2021-12-13 05:45:18