Victims will be allowed to read out personal statements in court before sentencing, under new plans announced today.
The new Victim’s Code will give victims the right for the first time to explain in their own words how a crime has affected them.
Damian Green, minister for policing, criminal justice and victims, said: ‘For too long victims have felt they are treated as an afterthought in the criminal justice system. No more. I am absolutely determined that victims are given back their voice and supported every step of the way.
‘I’m making sure victims’ voices are heard and that criminals no longer get away with just a slap on the wrist,’ he said.
Before the new revised code, victims’ impact statements were often not read in full, and sometimes not at all, but now ‘offenders and the court can be left in no doubt of the full impact of a crime’, said Green.
Carolyn Martin, from Winchester Crown Court Witness Services, said: ‘I think this will help our other partners in the criminal justice agencies – the police, the CPS, the courts – hopefully it will make them even more aware of victims and what they go through and how important they are.’
The new right ‘will help some [victims] I think it will take some courage if they do it themselves but of course they will have the choice’, she said.
Chief executive of independent charity Victim Support, Javed Khan said: ‘We believe the new code for victims is a big step towards making the criminal justice system truly responsive to the needs of victims and we look forward to working with government, the police, courts and other partners to ensure it is effectively implemented.’
The new code will come into force in December.
Author: Christina Michaels
Justice Gap reporter and journalism student at the University of Winchester