Positive steps but some victims could still fall through the cracks under new code

Published: 28 March 2019

29 March 2019

Restorative justice gives victims the chance to tell the offender how their criminal behaviour has affected them

Victim Support has welcomed a raft of new benefits proposed in the draft Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (Victims' Code) published today.

The leading victims' charity is reassured that all victims will now be given the right to make a victim personal statement so they can tell the court how the crime affected them. It has also welcomed that victims will receive information about restorative justice, which research shows can be extremely beneficial for victims.

However, the charity is asking the Ministry of Justice to look again at the Code as it is concerned that, as drafted, many victims of crime who need support will no longer be automatically referred to victims' services.

For example, this will mean that burglary victims who can experience significant distress after a crime, will be expected to ask for help themselves – just at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. 

The Victims' Code states that only victims of serious crime, those who are persistently targeted and vulnerable victims will be automatically referred to victims' services. Any other victims will need to request help themselves if they think they need it.

The draft Code also means that it would be down to the police to ensure that victims are aware of the right to ask for help, putting an additional burden on forces to keep victims informed.

Victim Support Chief Executive Javed Khan said: "We warmly welcome many aspects of the draft Victims' Code, and can see how hard the Victims' Minister has worked to improve experiences of victims in the criminal justice system.

"We hope that the Minister will listen carefully to feedback through the consultation period and reinstate automatic referral to support services for all victims.

"Being a victim of crime can be traumatic and we’re worried that victims will fall through the cracks. We hope that police and crime commissioners, with their responsibilities for victims, will want to go further than this to ensure that all victims have the support they need, when they need it."

The consultation on the new Victims' Code opened on 29 March and will close on 10 May.