The publication of the new Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Victims’Code), published today (29 October) has been welcomed by Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Cutland.
Ms Cutland, who is leading the work in the County to ensure that victims, not criminals, are at the heart of policing in Nottinghamshire, said that the new code was a big step in the right direction.
She added: “Historically, all too often victims have felt overlooked and virtually invisible as the giant wheels of the criminal justice system turn. Now, this new code of practice will channel energy into the needs of those most affected by crime:namely the victims themselves.”
One of the key changes will see victims of crime in England and Wales given the opportunity to personally address offenders to explain how a crime has impacted them by reading a statement to the court following a guilty verdict.
Under current practices judges read these statements privately to help them decide on the sentences they hand down, although parts may be read aloud by prosecutors.
Ms Cutland said: “Victims of crime must be treated with sensitivity and respect. It’s really important that their views are heard and taken into account, while those found guilty of committing a crime should be made aware of the impact their actions have had on the lives of others.
“We now need to work with our partners throughout the criminal justice system to ensure that people are aware of these changes and what it means to them.”
Keychanges to the previous code include:
- Strengthening the voice of the victim by putting the Victim Personal Statement under a statutory Code for the first time and giving an entitlement to victims to choose whether they would like to read their statement aloud in court or to have it read aloud on their behalf if the defendant is found guilty.
- Information on Restorative Justice for victims of adult offenders for the first time. This includes a duty on criminal justice agencies to meet existing quality standards and put in place robust safeguards to ensure repeat victimisation does not occur.
- An improved complaints process so that victims are better able to hold criminal justice agencies to account if things go wrong.
- A new dedicated section for victims under 18 and their parents and guardians written in an accessible way.
- A separate chapter for businesses and an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to make an impact statement so that their voice is fully heard.
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Posted on Tuesday 29th October 2013