The Government has announced a new package of measures to improve the service provided to, and treatment of, victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system.
The key elements of the package include:
- A new Victims’ Information Service which will, by March 2015, comprise a telephone helpline and a website to: signpost victims to support services; provide them with information about the criminal justice system and their entitlements under the Victims’ Code and Witness Charter. By April 2016 the service will develop into a ‘one-stop-shop’ to help victims navigate the CJS, gain access to the locally and nationally commissioned services that they require, and where victims can submit complaints and provide feedback so that the performance of CJS agencies can be judged on their customer ratings. By 2018 victims will be able to track the progress of their case online, all the way through the criminal justice system
- Strengthening the protection for vulnerable victims by improving their experience of going to court. We will require that to be instructed in cases involving serious sexual offences, publicly-funded advocates must have undertaken approved specialist training on working with vulnerable victims and witnesses. We will also give vulnerable witnesses greater opportunity to give evidence from a location away from the courtroom, but this will of course remain subject to judicial discretion and we do not intend to change the legislative framework here. We are also announcing an intention to roll out pre-trial cross-examination for child victims, subject to the evaluation of the pilots
- Increasing transparency and accountability, with criminal justice agencies publishing information to demonstrate how they have improved services for victims so that the Criminal Justice Board and the Victims’ Commissioner can hold those agencies to account.
- Announcing an intention to legislate in the first session of the next parliament to place key entitlements which are already set out in the Victims’ Code into primary legislation such as the right to make a Victim Personal Statement, and to request to read it aloud in court; early identification of priority victims and witnesses and assessment of their needs; automatic referral to the relevant support organisations; and information provided to victims about their case at every stage.
View the Ministry of Justice's Commitment to Victims document