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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Government introduces Victims and Prisoners Bill to Parliament

Government introduces Victims and Prisoners Bill to Parliament


A policy paper and multiple impact assessments have also been published

The Ministry of Justice announced on 29 March that the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which aims to transform victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system, has been introduced to Parliament. The Bill includes measures to better support victims and the public during their interactions with the criminal justice system, which includes creating an Independent Advocate to support survivors of major incidents.

The Bill also introduces measures to build the confidence of victims that the right support is available and that, if they report crime, the criminal justice system will treat them in the way they expect. As such, the principles of the victims’ code will become law and a duty will be placed on criminal justice bodies with Police and Crime Commissioners responsible for reviewing their compliance with the code.

Several reforms to the parole board and process will also be implemented to better protect the public and restore confidence in the parole system. More specifically, the new measures will strengthen the release test so that public safety is the only priority when making release decisions, require parole boards to include individuals with a law enforcement background, allow for greater ministerial oversight and the power to overturn release decisions for the most serious offenders, and reform the role of the chair of the parole board to ensure it is a strategic leadership role that has no influence over the decisions made in individual cases by parole panels.

In addition to this, the Bill will also prohibit prisoners serving whole-life orders from marrying or forming a civil partnership in prison. The government’s press release explains that this measure ‘will deny these criminals the important life events they stole from their victims while ensuring their horrific crimes are treated with the seriousness they deserve.’

Commenting on the Bill, Justice Minister, Edward Argar MP, said: “We want victims going through the justice system to feel listened to, supported, informed, and to be treated fairly, properly, and with dignity. Taken together, these measures will mean victims always know the level of help they should receive and always have somewhere to turn.”