Surprising stuff at the IARS Victim conference last week as a UK Government Minister appeared to falter over victim led justice by suggesting that the EU Victim Directive 2012/29/EU ("The Victim Directive") required new domestic law and would need further consultation before implementation on the meaning of "victim".
It is time to focus on the quality of delivery, not issue new policy documents. The process to review and support practitioners working in these specialised courts, which used to be in place and was abandoned, needs to be revitalised. And in revitalising that, the courts themselves need to be re-energised and need to look at new developments in the evidence
It is serious enough if police fail to investigate a major crime or mishandle something which leads to the deaths of innocent people - to then try to damage the reputation of the family and friends or the victims to cover up failings is a dreadful and cynical thing to do and we should not tolerate it.
The aggressive questioning of vulnerable witnesses in court was exposed again this week with solicitor general Oliver Heald calling for change at the dispatch box. We've all heard stories of children - many of them victims of horrific sex crimes - being thrown to the wolves in court and it needs to stop.
We all know crime doesn't pay, but we increasingly expect it to pay back. Of course the true cost of crime isn't financial: it's the pain and misery caused to innocent victims and communities. Yet at the moment criminals contribute less than one pound in every six to supporting victims. This balance is utterly wrong and it needs to change now.
It's no secret that the re-offending rate in this country remains far too high and that the public find it alarming. What's less publicised is what victims think about all this. Time and again victims tell me that, yes they want those who committed a crime to be punished, but also they want them to be rehabilitated.
Too often victims feel intimidated and forgotten, treated as an afterthought by a 'system' that makes their already horrific experience worse. As Victims' Minister my role is to champion the needs of victims and ensure that their voices are heard. One of the ways I am tackling this is by revising the Victims' Code.
Human trafficking is a scourge. It does not discriminate and permeates across age, race, sex and gender; it crushes self confidence and destroys lives. Its victims are often some of the most vulnerable members of society, separated from family and friends and with no access to financial help or support, they can become forgotten victims. As victims' minister my role is to ensure that they are not forgotten, but it is a job I can't do alone.
The welfare of victims should be the top priority of the justice system. When victims are left to suffer without help it can compromise justice as people will think twice about coming forward at all. Some may decide the price is too high and refuse to participate - which is a failure for justice, the 'system' and for society, and offenders will walk free.