Wednesday, 15th July 2015

  • Heads and General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill approved by Government.

For too long the victims of crime have merely been seen as witnesses by the criminal justice system. With these new proposals victims of crime will be given statutory rights and formal recognition. When this Bill is passed victims of crime will no longer be left to watch from the sidelines, as investigations and prosecutions take place.

Being a victim of crime can be a traumatic experience, but too often this is compounded by a lack of support. This Bill will put in place a framework that can make sure that victims of crime receive the support they deserve. Victims will have a right to information on their role within the criminal justice system. They will have rights to written acknowledgment of their complaint, updates on the progress of investigations and assessment of and protection from the risk of any secondary or repeat victimisation.

These are all very welcome improvements that will remove unnecessary stress, from victims of what is an already difficult experience. One of the biggest changes will be that victims will have a right to know why a prosecution is not taken and to have that decision reviewed. Also, when a criminal is sent to prison the victim will be kept informed about any release, or request for release, from jail. This will reassure victims and show them that the criminal justice system is working in their interests.

This Bill represents a cultural shift in how victims of crime are treated by the criminal justice system. It will ensure that they receive the support that they deserve. Victims of crime will no longer be left out in the cold, when this Bill is passed they will be rightfully at the centre of the criminal justice system.