I believe passionately that a civilised society looks after people who've been preyed on by criminals. That means supporting victims and witnesses, wherever they are, to help them find the strength to move on with their lives after crime.
The government's consultation document, Getting it right for victims and witnesses, was published last week and, apart from some predictable headlines about fines and offenders no longer receiving compensation, seems to have largely gone un-noticed.
But what this means is that all of us have just 11 weeks to respond and make sure the government clearly understands what it needs to do with the best interests of people who have fallen victim to crime in mind.
I welcome Ken Clarke's commitment to this crucial issue when he says: "Victims are too often an afterthought for the criminal justice system. But they are the people to whom we have the greatest responsibility. Their needs should be dealt with sensitively, proportionately and promptly. I believe the proposals in this paper will ensure victims' services are on a sustainable footing and go a long way to putting right the failings of the past."
My first impression of the consultation is that it has got it right about some of the issues affecting victims. The Ministry of Justice's stance on how offenders should do more to compensate victims and society for their crimes is welcome and we acknowledge that compensation for victims needs to change - especially in these tough economic times.
I'm also pleased with the plans to extend the use of victim personal statements and to ensure that restorative justice is more available and works for victims. These are all sound recommendations and, if implemented, should make the experience of victims in the criminal justice system better.
My main concern, however, is to do with plans to commission help for victims who need it on a local, area-by-area basis. This is a big shift from the situation now where all victims across England and Wales have access to high quality help, organised nationally and to the same standards everywhere, backed up by local specialist services where necessary.
If the government's plans are implemented, then we will undoubtedly see scarce public money wasted on red tape with form-filling and administration needed to fund local victim services from dozens, if not hundreds, of small local organisations. This must also lead to a fall in standards and accountability.
These plans are expensive and wasteful - the money would be better spent on helping victims and witnesses directly - and will result in patchy and unreliable services for people in sometimes desperate need.
If the government wants to make sure that victims who need help get it, the easiest thing to do is to invest more in what already works. And in doing so let's remember what good value that investment is given that currently less than a penny in every pound spent on justice currently goes directly to victims.
Victim Support services are vital whether they are directly 'on the ground' with practical help such as filling in insurance forms after a robbery, or emotional support after a rape. If the offender is caught and taken to court, victims and witnesses often need support before, during and after a court case - giving evidence can sometimes be nearly as traumatic as the crime itself.
Looking after victims and witnesses is so important it needs to be organised on a national scale, delivered locally and tailored to the individual needs of each person, with proper safeguards and accountability. I welcome local accountability through Police and Crime Commissioners or any other route. But this can be delivered best through well constructed national arrangements which make services responsive to local need but also ensure a breadth and quality of service across the country. That's the only way a civilised society can guarantee that everyone can count on getting help when the worst happens.
Only a few weeks ago, Neville Lawrence, the father of Stephen who was murdered in 1993, highlighted how helpful Victim Support's Witness Service had been to him and his family during the lengthy court trial. These are the kind of services that need to be invested in and we can't afford to have them cut. Victim Support intends to look at all the proposals thoroughly before we feed back to the government. I urge you to do the same - the lives of victims and witnesses depend on it.