Labour proposes ‘Victims' Law’
A taskforce set up by the Labour Party has issued recommendations of initiatives and improvements to how victims of crime are treated within the criminal justice system. Headed by the former DPP, Kier Starmer and Lady Doreen Lawrence, amongst others, the taskforce has made 14 recommendations which go further than the current ‘Victims’ Code’ published in October 2013.
Amongst the recommendations are a call for a statutory and mandatory duty on those working with children to report suspected child abuse encompassing a statutory defence that “the individual in question had complied with the safeguarding policy relevant to him/her”. The report found that an estimated 85% of the most serious sexual offences committed between 2007 and 2012 were never reported to the Police and attributes this statistic partly due to the fact that Police Stations “can often be intimidating and therefore unlikely place for victims of personal and sexual violence [to approach]”. In response the taskforce recommends that other locations, such as sexual assault referral centres should be made available.
The taskforce also proposes that during a trial a Judge should be given more power to control the questioning of the victim and witnesses in Court by holding a preliminary hearing to set the parameters of the questioning. Provision should also be made for victims to be able to have charging decisions reviewed, where no charges have been brought.
The existing ‘Victims’ Code’ would be expanded and become enforceable by sanctions including the publication of breaches, the award of compensation and referrals to regulatory bodies.
A full copy of the report can be found here.
Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.