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The PM Must Consider What the EU Has Done for Victims of Crime

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A fair and just society is one that supports victims in the aftermath of crime. That's why I'm strongly urging David Cameron to think again before making any dangerous rejections of existing EU measures in his long awaited speech tomorrow. In particular, those which protect victims of crime at home and abroad.

It's true that the EU often gets a bad press from victims. It's been blamed for wide-ranging problems such as inmates getting compensation for 'slopping out', to prisoners getting the vote, to the difficulties faced deporting Abu Qatada, even though these examples relate to the European Convention on Human Rights and not the EU, a nuance often lost in the fevered debates about our place in it.

The truth of the matter is that if you are a victim of crime you may have a lot to thank the EU for, and a lot to lose if Britain pulls out of measures it has just recently signed up to.

Positive measures to come out of Europe include everything from funding programmes for victims, including those who have suffered rape and domestic violence, to the new EU Directive on victims of crime.

This directive offers significant benefits and guaranteed protections in the criminal justice process for victims, both at home and abroad. These include a victim's right to information about the crime committed against them and what is happening to investigate it; the reimbursement of expenses for going to court to give evidence and the right to receive help and support in the aftermath of a crime. These are all issues that victims tell my charity - day in day out - are so important to them.

So when the prime minister gives his steer on the future I'm hoping for a balanced response to the 'Fresh Start' Conservative MPs who have demanded a full opt out of all EU home affairs and justice measures. There would be significant pitfalls in doing this.

Bizarrely - in light of suggestions of now opting out - the new directive received cross party support when it was debated in Parliament. Members on both sides of the House recognised that as well as helping victims of crime here in the UK, it would help the millions of British citizens who travel to Europe every year, guaranteeing them protections if they are unfortunate enough to fall victim to crime abroad.

For example, thanks to this directive, victims will soon have a right to have criminal proceedings translated - an invaluable right if you don't speak the local language where the crime occurs. So, whether you are planning on sight seeing in Paris or relaxing by the Rhine this directive is good news for people in this country.

Victim organisations across Europe - and the world - look to the UK as a leader in support for victims and witnesses. If our government is considering opting out of these improvements, it will be nothing but a backward step.

I'm therefore urging the prime minister to the make the right decision for victims of crime. Above all, I ask him to honour the commitment his government has already made to implement the EU directive, and to demonstrate that victims really do matter to this government.