Changes to a Code of Practice which puts victims at the heart of policing and criminal justice come into force from today.
Among the revisions to the Victims’ Code is a broadening of the definition of victim, aimed at ensuring services and support can be accessed by all victims regardless of the type of crime by which they’ve been affected.
Previously provisions within the Code were limited to victims of crime recorded under the National Crime Recording Standard which is based on applying legal definitions of crime to victims’ reports.
The Code, which was the subject of a Government consultation earlier this year, has also been extended to cover agencies outside of the core criminal justice system who provide services to victims.
Welcoming the revisions, PCC Stephen Bett said: “Victims’ needs must be at the heart of both policing and criminal justice. It is vital that victims are properly supported and have a choice and a voice. The introduction of the Code in 2013 was a step towards achieving that.
“Any change to the Code which improves access to information and quality support services for those affected by crime is to be welcomed.”
In October 2014, PCCs became responsible for commissioning support services to meet the needs of victims of crime in their police force area. The Code outlines what kind of support victims can expect to receive from service providers which, alongside PCCs, include the police, prison service and court service.
One of the services to which the Code states all victims of crime should have access is restorative justice – the opportunity to, in appropriate cases, meet in a safe environment with the offender to ask questions and explain how they’ve been affected by the crime.
Backing National Restorative Justice (RJ) Week (16-22 November), and having commissioned Norfolk’s RJ service, Stephen said: “Victims’ experiences are all different. They have different feelings about what has happened to them and different ideas about what they want to happen next. Their needs must come first, and that’s the driving principle behind our own restorative justice service.”
A copy of the revised Victims’ Code can be found at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/victims-code
For information on how your PCC is working to support victims of crime, please take a look at our Supporting Victims page.