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Government enforces tough measures to empower victims and hold agencies accountable

Government enforces tough measures to empower victims and hold agencies accountable


New amendments ensure victims' voices heard, support guaranteed, and agencies held accountable in landmark legislation

In a landmark move aimed at empowering victims of serious crimes and ensuring accountability within the criminal justice system, the Ministry of Justice, led by Laura Farris MP and supported by The Rt Hon Alex Chalk KC MP and The Rt Hon Edward Argar MP, has announced decisive measures to bolster the existing victims' law.

Central to these measures is the provision allowing victims of serious crimes committed by individuals with mental disorders to articulate the impact of the offense in their own words. Through amendments to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, survivors will now have the opportunity to make Victim Impact Statements during the Mental Health Tribunal process, a crucial step in the decision-making process regarding offender release conditions.

Moreover, the government has imposed a new statutory duty on police and other criminal justice agencies, mandating not only the informing of victims about their rights under the Victims’ Code but also the delivery of services in accordance with it. Oversight of compliance with this duty will rest with the Victims’ Commissioner, ensuring transparency, accountability, and consistency in victim support services.

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC, stressed the importance of holding agencies accountable to ensure victims receive the necessary support amidst the complexities of the criminal justice system. Justice Minister, Edward Argar, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the pivotal role of the Victims’ and Prisoners Bill in guaranteeing victims' rights and dignity.

Additionally, the government is moving to protect vulnerable children by mandating police notification to schools and colleges in cases of suspected domestic abuse. This builds upon the foundation laid by the Domestic Abuse Act, acknowledging children as victims in their own right.

Further amendments to the bill include requirements for consultation with the Victims’ Commissioner on changes to the Victims’ Code, public disclosure of agency non-compliance notifications, and the clarification that confidentiality clauses cannot impede crime reporting.

The government's commitment extends beyond legislative measures, with a significant increase in funding for victim support services. By quadrupling victims’ funding and increasing the number of Independent Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse Advisors, the government aims to enhance support for victims across the board.

These tough new measures signify a step forward in ensuring victims’ voices are heard, support is readily available, and agencies are held accountable in upholding the rights and dignity of those affected by serious crimes.