Victim Support Manifesto 2001 - Victim Support is calling for...
To underpin the rights for victims, Victim Support is calling for:
Legislation for victims' rights
Victim Support believes that victims' rights should be protected in legislation which would:
- define specific rights rather than just broad principles
- be clear about which agency is responsible for protecting/safeguarding these rights
- be enforceable with clear remedies if the rights are breached.
Such legislation would give greater status to the rights of victims. It needs to start with the needs of victims in terms of support, information, protection and compensation. However no legislation is likely to cover all the provisions which are available to victims of crime. Defined service standards are therefore also essential.
Both legislation and service standards need to be underpinned by audit mechanisms to improve accountability, better training and education, and better provision of information to victims about their rights.
A Commissioner for Victims of Crime
There has been a proposal that a new post of Ombudsman for Victims of Crime be created. But an Ombudsman who just covers issues related to the criminal justice system would fail to benefit the majority of victims who don't get into the system. Victim Support welcomes the proposal but believes that the remit should extend beyond the traditional core functions of an Ombudsman. Therefore, Victim Support is calling instead for a Commissioner for Victims of Crime who, in promoting the best interests of victims of crime, would:
- ensure that agencies implement changes to their policies or procedures where these have proved not to have taken full account of the interests and needs of victims
- advise victims on how to seek redress, giving assistance in important test cases and initiating proceedings in the Commissioner's own name
- deal with individual complaints where resolution at an earlier stage has not been successful
- scrutinise proposed legislation which will affect victims of crime
- conduct inquiries into issues of public concern that would not be resolved through the outcome of individual cases
- seek to reduce secondary victimisation.
Additional funding for Victim Support services
Victim Support provides respect, recognition and support, information and help with claiming compensation and with seeking protection, to victims of crime whether or not they have reported the crime, and whether or not the case goes to court. The Victim Supportline provides a means of access to these services, particularly valuable to victims who have not reported the crime to the police, such as victims of racially motivated crime, domestic violence and sexual crime. For victims and witnesses who do come to court, the Witness Service run by Victim Support provides support in all the Crown Courts in England and Wales and by April 2002 this will be extended to all the magistrates courts.
Additional funding from the Home Office would enable Victim Support to:
- make personal contact with a greater proportion of victims of crime in the community whose cases do not fall within the criminal justice system
- increase access to Victim Support's service by increasing self-referrals
- increase the hours the Victim Supportline is open so that it becomes a 24 hour service
- extend Victim Support's service to include families of victims of road deaths
- increase our involvement in local Crime Reduction Partnerships
- increase support provided to victims claiming Criminal Injuries Compensation
- provide support for domestic violence victims requesting non-molestation orders in civil courts
- provide support for families of homicide victims in coroners' courts
- provide support for victims in the criminal justice process in relation to a raft of new developments including restorative justice, direct communication with victims by the Crown Prosecution Service, contact from the probation service
- expand the Witness Service to provide for the increase in vulnerable and intimidated witnesses attending court
- extend the Witness Service to the courts martial
- increase expenses available for families attending court in homicide cases.