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Give victims legal right to make court statement, urges Baroness Newlove

Victims of crime should be given the right in law to make a statement in court about the impact the offence has had on them, the victims' commissioner has said.

Police are failing to follow through on a code that sets out victims' right to speak out about the effect on their lives, according to Baroness Newlove.

Just 15% of victims were given the chance to make a formal statement in 2015/16 in England and Wales, the peer found.

Baroness Newlove, whose husband Garry was beaten to death by a gang vandalising his car in 2007, called for more action to improve the way victims are treated.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a code, it's not actually in legislation. Enough is enough for victims. We need to protect, respect and support victims.

"I'm looking to Government to strengthen the rights of victims within legislation."

Baroness Newlove said victims who wanted to speak out were still being missed.

"To sit in a courtroom and listen about your loved one, it's quite hard to not have your say."

Shadow justice minister Christina Rees said: " This is a damning indictment of a Tory Government that is letting the victims of crime down.

"Despite promising a Victims' Law in 2015, the Conservatives have dragged their feet ever since.

"Labour will keep pressing for the rights of victims to be enshrined in law so that every victim can make a personal statement when in court.

"It's time the Government lived up to its promises."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We welcome the Victims' Commissioner's report, and will consider its findings carefully.

"It is vital that blameless victims see swift and certain justice, which is why we have protected the victims' budget and given Police and Crime Commissioners almost £70 million to support victims in their areas.

"We have long committed to strengthening victims' rights, to ensure the most vulnerable get the support they deserve."


From Belfast Telegraph