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Support's policy work
Victim Support's policy work
As Victim Support has grown, it has established a coherent set of standards for the way in which victims and witnesses should be treated.
To this end Victim Support works closely with professionals in the criminal justice system and with government bodies, using our professional contacts to represent the interests of victims and to influence national policy.
Victim Support uses every possible means to promote victims' interests:
we organise conferences
set up working parties
play an active role in Government committees
give evidence to official enquiries
submit responses to government consultation documents and draft legislation
commission and write research reports
contribute to conferences and training programmes
work with the media.
We believe that all victims of crime are entitled to five fundamental rights:
1) to receive respect, recognition and support
2) to receive information and explanation about the progress of their case - victims should also have an opportunity to provide their own information about the full financial, physical and emotional consequences of the crime and this information should be taken into consideration whenever decisions are made about the case
3) to be protected in any way necessary
4) to receive compensation
5) to be free of the burden of decisions relating to the offender - we believe that the responsibility for dealing with the offender lies with the state and should not be placed upon the victim.
Victim Support's achievements
Victim Support has achieved many policy successes. Victims' and witnesses' interests are increasingly high on the political agenda.
In recent years, a wide range of new procedures and legislation have been announced so that one-by-one the rights we have identified have been recognised and acted upon.
For example, the 1996 Victimís
charter provided for all victims to be kept informed of developments in their own cases. Victims' and witnesses' rights to protection have been significantly enhanced by the Protection from Harassment Act, the Family Law Act, the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act and the measures set out in the Home Office report
up for justice, many of which were incorporated into the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act. Victim Support has been involved with the development of the Probation Service's contact with victims of serious offences, Victim Personal Statements so that victims can let the criminal justice agencies know about their needs and interests, and direct communication by the Crown Prosecution Service with victims when charges are dropped or downgraded. Victim Support contributed to the Review of Sexual Offences, the development of restorative justice, Lord Justice Auld's Review of the Criminal Courts and the consultation on the revision of the Victim's charter.
Victim Support will continue to work closely with all those involved in the introduction of these new measures to ensure that they are as effective as possible.
However, we are aware that the impact of crime is not limited to the criminal justice system alone. Only 3% of victims' cases are dealt with by the criminal justice system. Becoming a victim of crime can affect every aspect of a person's life and all victims are equally entitled to have their rights fully considered.
Our Manifesto 2001 emphasises the importance of focusing on the social rights of victims of crime - for example, how becoming a victim of crime might affect an individual's employment or housing situation - as well as raising awareness of the effects of crime amongst the medical and educational professions.
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