During this week's session of Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons Chamber, I sought assurances from the Prime Minister about the increased levels of support that will be available to victims of crime under the newly announced Victims Strategy.
The Victims Strategy was unveiled by the Government earlier this month and follows a Conservative Party manifesto commitment to enshrine victims’ rights in law for the first time. The Victims Strategy sets out commitments to improve victims’ experience including strengthening the Victims’ Code, reviewing the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, abolishing the unfair “same roof” rule which denied compensation to victims who lived with their attacker, and improving support for victims during the parole process. The Victims Strategy also establishes an Independent Public Advocate to act for bereaved families following a public disaster such as the Hillsborough or Grenfell tragedies.
Welcoming the announcement of the Victims Strategy, I said that while a lot of parliamentary time is spent talking about crime and prisons, there is perhaps not enough time spent talking about the victims of crime. I asked the Prime Minister for an assurance that the Victims Strategy won’t just be a dry document but will instead be a genuine effort to boost support for the victims of crime. In response, the Prime Minister said that not only is it the Government’s duty to keep people safe but it also has a duty to ensure victims are properly supported and listened to and the Victims Strategy will ensure that victims receive care and support at every stage of their interaction with the justice system .
I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s assurances that the Victims Strategy will make a genuine impact on victims and improve the support available to them. As the Prime Minister said, nothing can take away the trauma and distress of being a victim but it is vital that we have a system in place that provides the care and support victims need. I was particularly pleased to learn that the strategy involves increased spending to support victims, for example £8 million more to improve support services for victims of sexual violence and a further £8 million on interventions to ensure support for children who witnessed domestic abuse.
Victims are not only those who have suffered from a crime and as the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower has sadly shown, public disasters can leave hundreds of bereaved family members as victims too. I am pleased that this is reflected in the Victims Strategy, with proposed measures of support included for both victims of crime and those who have been impacted by a public disaster.
I welcome that the Government has launched a consultation on some of its proposals alongside the publication of the strategy, and would urge any interested constituents to take part.