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Reviews to look at victim treatment

Criminal justice agencies, including the courts and police, are to be subjected to in-depth reviews to find out how they treat victims, it has been announced.

The reviews have been ordered by Victims Commissioner Baroness Newlove, who aims to lay bare the failings of parts of the criminal justice system in its treatment of those affected by crime, as well as seeking out examples of best practice.

Conducted by a three-person review team, the first probe will start in the autumn, with a brief to scrutinise how agencies are complying with the Victims' Code, dealing with complaints and using restorative justice.

Launching the reviews in her annual report, Lady Newlove - who campaigned for victims' rights following her husband's murder in 2007 and was appointed Commissioner in 2012 - said : "Victims deserve the very best possible support to get them through the haunting aftermath of crime.

"If they are not getting this - their concerns need to be taken seriously and improvements need to be made as a result.

"I will be looking closely at good and bad practice to ensure all those who suffer loss and trauma are listened to and treated with dignity and respect.

"With the findings of each review, I will be challenging the Government and other agencies to take action and make a real difference to victims and their families."

Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive at the charity Victim Support, said: "We welcome the Victims Commissioner's decision to make monitoring the Code a priority because we know from supporting hundreds of thousands of victims and witnesses every year how important it is that they are treated with dignity and respect. We look forward to working closely with her as she gathers evidence of good and bad practice across the police, courts and other agencies.

"When victims believe they have not been treated properly, it is critical their complaints are handled fairly and effectively and so we support a renewed focus on this issue which is so important to maintaining public confidence in the criminal justice system."

Victims' minister Damian Green said: "I thank Baroness Newlove for her impressive work during her first year and welcome this report.

"Her position has been instrumental in bringing about positive change for victims and witnesses.

"This report shows the value the Victims' Commissioner has already brought and provides an excellent basis for delivering further improvements."


From Belfast Telegraph