Written evidence from Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC
Submission to the Justice Committee Call for Evidence for pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Victims’ Bill
About the Victims’ Commissioner
- The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales is dedicated to promoting the interests of victims and witnesses.
- The role of Victims’ Commissioner set down in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 and amended in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 is to:
- promote the interests of victims and witnesses;
- take such steps as she considers appropriate with a view to encouraging good practice in the treatment of victims and witnesses;
- keep under review the operation of the code of practice issued under section 32 (commonly known as the Victims’ Code).
- The Commissioner is appointed by Ministers but is independent of government. She is committed to representing all victims and witnesses and has a particular focus on those who are most vulnerable. She seeks to be transparent in all her activities, placing her correspondence with ministers and criminal justice agencies onto her website. She is committed to make sure the voice of the victim is heard in all policy and practice across the criminal justice system.
Request for evidence
- The Committee has requested written evidence on whether the Bill, as drafted, meets the Government’s aim of delivering a cultural shift in victims’ experiences by putting their interests at the heart of the justice system.
The Victims’ Commissioner’s response
- The Victims’ Bill, as currently drafted, does not fully deliver the paradigm and cultural shift required to ensure that victims are treated as participants within the criminal justice system, with guaranteed rights and service standards.
- The Victims’ Commissioner delivered a significant response to the initial Victims’ Bill consultation, which outlines a vision and practical recommendations to deliver the required change. This can be found online and addresses many of the issues that the Committee is seeking evidence on, in particular:
- The key principles set out in the consultation,
- Proposals to ensure that the Victims’ Code is widely acknowledged, applied and for victims’ to seek redress where rights are not granted,
- Proposed changes to the Victims’ Code,
- Proposals on the role of the Victims’ Commissioner,
- Data collection requirements,
- The role of the inspectorates,
- Commissioning support services,
- The role of advocates such as IDVAs and ISVAs, and
- Accountability and oversight of criminal justice agencies.
- Dame Vera Baird will be providing oral evidence to the Committee where these areas can be addressed further.
- The Committee can contact the Victims’ Commissioner’s office via email at email@example.com