Offenders get more support than victims, Cumbrian conference told
Last updated at 08:42, Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Crime victims aren’t getting the same level of support as offenders, the Victims’ Commissioner told justice workers in Cumbria.
Baroness Helen Newlove made a passionate plea for the various agencies involved in the Criminal Justice System to put victims first.
Baroness Newlove, the Ministry of Justice’s Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, was speaking at a major conference at Rheged in Penrith.
She said, as a victim of crime herself, that victims and witnesses are often “easily forgotten” in the justice system.
And she claimed that Government and national voluntary and statutory agencies involved in the system have not always got the needs of victims and witnesses right.
“Victims can speak for themselves and it’s time we start listening to them”, Baroness Newlove said.
She also said a lot of effort goes into rehabilitating offenders and now more needs to be done to help rehabilitate victims of crime.
The only way to do this, she said, is for all agencies, including health, housing and social services, to work together.
And, she added, victims shouldn’t be categorised but should be assessed on their individual situation and needs.
The Victim Services Conference came ahead of plans to transfer powers in dealing with victims of crime to the various police and crime commissioner’s offices throughout the country. It was hosted by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes who told the News & Star that victims of crime should be the priority.
He said the public perception was that more time and effort is currently being spent on criminals than victims. Mr Rhodes explained: “I can only say this comes with experience. For example the recent case of the Manchester music teacher who committed suicide after being interrogated.
“Mr Public concludes that she had such a hard time that it falls to her to commit suicide. While the perpetrator is now in jail she is dead, so this perception must come from people’s experience.”
He also said many victims may think a crime isn’t worth reporting because they don’t think anything will be done about it.
And he added he wants to know what the various local agencies involved in the Criminal Justice System are and aren’t doing before he allocates Cumbria’s share of £100m of Government funding for victims services in the county.
Baroness Newlove also called for more support for victims and witnesses during court trials. She said more should be done to cut the risk of them running into defendants and their families. And victims should also be properly prepared before a trial for what will be expected of them and how long the process will go on for, she added.
Baroness Newlove said: “We cannot protect victims from a stressful time in court but we can and must ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.”
She added: “Commissioning powers will be transferred in October 2014 and it’s a crucial opportunity to define local standards of care with victims themselves.
“It’s also a chance to fix the gaps in the system and ensure everyone never stops raising their game for victims. None of this will happen until everyone works effectively together, but sadly, currently many victims will tell you that the links in the chains of justice are broken.”
First published at 08:39, Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
I hope the serving police officer who posted this last comment realises that she/he is singularity unsuitable to occupy their office. Of the many rights that she/he would deprive suspects of, and she/he is talking principally about suspects, the one that stands out is the disgraceful imposition that suspects should be clothed at public expense after their own clothes have been seized as evidence, presumably as part of an investigation, you know the bit that the police approach with an open mind to try and establish if there is actually any evidence of guilt! Resign, now!
This Country as always put the rights of criminals first. My family and myself were victims for well over a decade why? Because we refused to do what many others were doing on our estate buying and selling drugs and criminal activity. The majority of the good people were getting sucked into crime because they were scared of reprisals handed out by the career criminals we had on the estate my family suffered from petrol bombs and we were terrorised by the few because we stood up for the good people. Agencies and council were useless and let these toe-rags continue there in house punishments as we called it because if anyone did not conform they were a target and agencies turned a blind eye to it. We moved estate in the end but why should we had to move and not the scum? All we hear from government is lip service but nothing will change for victims because there is more funding for criminals in society and victims get very little or nothing.Ron Carter's Bonsteel. Middlesbrough
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