Crime victims to be told when offenders due out of prison under new law

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 9:40 am
Updated Monday, 5th April 2021, 2:59 pm
Crime victims to be told when offenders due out of prison under new victim's code (Photo: Shutterstock)
Crime victims to be told when offenders due out of prison under new victim's code (Photo: Shutterstock)

Anyone who has been the victim of a crime will now be informed when the offender is due to leave prison.

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If the offender is a foreign national, victims will also be told when they are deported.

The new Victims’ Code comes into force today, which stipulates that victims of crime have a right to be given easy to understand information about their case, as well as extra support when needed.

Campaigners for victim’s rights are hopeful that the new Code will give way to changes in the law to support victims.

How will the Victim’s Code work?

The code will apply to any victim of crime, whether they choose to report it or not.

The code creates a set of rights for victims, guaranteeing them a certain level of support at every stage of the justice process.

This includes information about the trial process, their role as a witness if necessary and the outcome of the case.

Where appropriate, victims will be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme, which provides updates on the progress of a convicted offender and their eligibility for release or parole.

The new code also ensures vulnerable victims will have the ability to pre-record their cross-examination away from the courtroom, rather than give evidence in court.

It adds victims of sexual violence will be able to choose the gender of their police interviewer, while victims of foreign national offenders now have the right to know when the perpetrator is deported.

‘Simplified and stronger rights’

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the new code will pave the way for a new Victims' Law, which MPs will consult on this summer.

He said: "Our new Code provides victims with a simplified and stronger set of rights - making clear their entitlements at every step of the way as they recover from crime.

"But we are not stopping here and will consult on strengthening these rights even further through a Victims' Law as we continue to build back confidence in the justice system."

Writing in the Daily Express, Mr Buckland added the Victims' Code will play a "crucial" part in ensuring "victims stick with the (justice) process so that criminals are taken off our streets, the public is protected and justice is served".

‘A Victims’ Law’

The Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, stressed the importance of victims' rights ultimately being enshrined into law.

Dame Vera said: "A Victims' Law would ensure that victims' rights, such as to information, making a personal statement and accessing independent support services, are legally enforceable.

"With a Victims' Law, we have the opportunity to truly transform the victims' experience of the justice system. I look forward to engaging with the Government in the coming months to make this law a reality."