THE BLOG

We Need to Do More to Support Victims of Crime

28/01/2015 10:16 GMT | Updated 29/03/2015 10:59 BST

Being a victim of crime can be a deeply traumatising experience. It's a time when people are at their most vulnerable, and the prospect of having to deal with the criminal justice system can be incredibly daunting.

I am clear that we need to do all we can to make sure the system works for victims, which is why we have asked the Victims' Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, to produce a series of independent reports on what more can be done to support them. The first of these reports was published today, looking at how we can improve the way criminal justice organisations deal with victims' complaints.

While the report highlights examples of the positive work taking place across the criminal justice system, I am always the first to recognise that more has to be done to support victims at such a difficult time. That's why I have consistently put the highest emphasis on victims' needs, and why we are now making more money available than ever before for the support services that are designed to help them.

In September we unveiled the Government's Commitment to Victims. As part of this commitment we have pledged to introduce a new Victims' Law, which will enshrine victims' rights in legislation for the first time. We are also launching a Victims' Information Service that will become a one-stop-shop, offering victims all the support and advice they need in a single place rather than spread out across the internet.

This comes after our launch of a new Victims' Code, which sets out in plain English what people should expect from the moment they report a crime onwards. It lets victims know who they can demand help from if they aren't getting the information they need.

At the heart of our commitment is a realisation that victims have already been through a lot by the time they come into contact with the criminal justice system. Our challenge is to be sensitive to their needs. We have to make sure they are always listened to and that they are treated with empathy, sensitivity and respect. This applies as much to the complaints process as it does to any other part of the system, which is why I am already reviewing whether new powers are needed so that they can better hold the system to account.

As part of our Victims' Code we have already set out minimum standards that agencies are required to meet when dealing with complaints. Where we find these standards aren't being met, we will ensure action is taken and changes are made. The work of Baroness Newlove in helping us to raise standards is absolutely critical, and will support us in making sure the good work going on in many places is replicated across the system as a whole.

I will ensure we continue to do everything we possibly can to support all victims of crime. We have already set up a Victims' Panel so that they can tell ministers directly how the criminal justice system could better serve people in their position, and I look forward to working with Baroness Newlove on the many sensible and measured recommendations she has made in her report.