Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner supports landmark reforms for victims
Prosecutors could be forced to meet victims before making charging decisions under new law
Landmark reforms for victims of crime have been backed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire David Lloyd.
Ministry of Justice plans include consultation on the first ever Victims’ Law that would guarantee greater consultation with them during the criminal justice process to ensure their voices are properly heard.
The changes would also hold agencies such as the police, Crown Prosecution Service and courts to account for the service they provide to victims appropriately.
Victims’ views would be taken into better account at regular points during their case. Plus, proposals include an explicit requirement for prosecutors to meet the victims of certain crimes before making a charging decision in order to understand the impact.
Backing the changes Mr Lloyd said: “I welcome this consultation that should strengthen victims’ rights. I have always said that victims should be at the centre of everything we do in Hertfordshire involving policing and crime.
“Through our victim service Beacon the public already have one of the most comprehensive programmes in place in the country.
"It contacts every reported victim of crime in Hertfordshire and has dedicated units to safeguard those effected by domestic abuse, sexual violence, fraud and anti-social behaviour.
“My new proposed Police and Crime Plan also sets out strengthening the accountability of the Criminal Justice System as justice delayed is justice denied.”
The government is starting a consultation to seek views on new legislation designed to amplify victims’ voices in the criminal justice process, bolster the level of support they receive, and strengthen the accountability of all the agencies responsible for delivering this.
This includes clear expectations of the quality of service that should be offered by the police, prosecutors and the courts.
The ultimate aim of these improvements is to secure more convictions, prevent further crime and make neighbourhoods safer.
Plans to increase the Victim Surcharge starting at £100 have also been set out with the extra money being used to pay for victim services.
A new system of local scorecards is due to be published next year which will compare how victims are treated across England and Wales.
The consultation seeks to establish clear routes of redress if victims do not receive the support they are entitled to, and whether better oversight across the system could improve performance through strengthening inspection regimes and increasing the role of Police and Crime Commissioners.
The aim is to use this data to help drive a major increase in the number of prosecutions reaching court.
New guidelines also mean that victims of sexual and modern slavery offences will be spared the trauma of giving evidence in court through the national roll out of a scheme enabling
pre-recorded evidence across all crown courts in England and Wales.
Known as section 28, the scheme allows victims to have their cross-examination pre-recorded earlier in the process and outside the courtroom, and can help to reduce stress to ensure they give their best evidence.