Victims' rights

Our achievements in social policy

We are aware that the impact of crime is not limited to the criminal justice system. Only 3% of victims' cases are dealt with by the courts. Becoming a victim of crime can affect every aspect of a person's life and all victims are equally entitled to have their rights considered.

Our Manifesto (2001) highlighted the importance of the social rights of victims of crime - for example, becoming a victim of crime can affect your employment or housing situation - as well as raising awareness of the effects of crime among the medical and educational professionals.

In February 2002 Victim Support launched a major new policy document as the focus for Victim Support Week. The new report, Criminal neglect: no justice beyond criminal justice, recognised that a lot had been achieved for victims of crime within the criminal justice system, but that victims' special needs are hardly recognised in most other areas of social provision, such as health, housing and education.

In its white paper, Justice for all (July 2002), the government published its proposal to appoint an independent Commissioner for victims and witnesses. We welcomed this proposal but we were disappointed that it fell short of what we called for in Criminal neglect. We believe that the proposed powers of the Commissioner are inadequate and that the Commissioner must be able to get agencies to change their policies and procedures, where necessary. This proposal has been incorporated in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill.

We have also contributed to the government's strategy for victims and witnesses, A new deal for victims and witnesses, published in July 2003. This set out how the needs of victims and witnesses should be met not just by the criminal justice agencies but also by other government departments and local authorities, including health and housing.

Victim Support calls for all agencies which come into contact with victims to take account of their interests in the services they offer.

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