Thursday, October 05, 2006

Victims Advisory Panel - Why?

The Home Office has announced the creation of the Victims Advisory Panel:
The new panel will include people who have suffered from crimes such as burglary, anti-social behavior and hate crime, or who are survivors of victims of serious violent crime.

It will examine the way victims and witnesses are treated and the way their experiences are handled by the criminal justice system, and then make formal recommendations for changes directly to Ministers.

The panel is a critical part of the government's commitment to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system.

Emotional and practical support
Home Office Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said that, while crime is at record low levels, people are still victimised and their rights must be protected. 'Being a victim or witness of a crime can have a severe and damaging effect. We will ensure that victims have the emotional and practical support they need.'

The panel will work to ensure that victims feel the system is on their side as they go through the difficult process of giving evidence and working with police and prosecutors to ensure that criminals are brought to justice, he said.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Rt Hon Harriet Harman agreed adding, 'Crime victims must get the support they need from the criminal justice system.' The advisory panel, she said, 'will represent the needs of victims, whatever their circumstances.'

Hearing their voices
Kathryn Stone, the panel's spokesperson, is also the chief executive of Voice UK, a national charity for people with learning difficulties who have been victims of crime. She said the panel will provide a critical service.

'Too often the voice of the victim is not heard properly, or not heard early enough. We are looking forward to being the voice of victims of crime at a crucial stage - when policy is first being developed.'
My question is why create such a body? I realise that this post is likely to provoke a nasty reaction from some of the readers of this blog, but I do not understand what our government beleives it will achieve by setting up such a panel. I have read through the proposals that victims should be able to address Courts upon the impact of a defendant's behaviour if convicted, I have also read the proposals that victims should form part of the Parole Board panel that decides if a convicted prisoner can be released from prison. I have yet to see the results of the victims advocate pilot.

The judicial system that exists in the UK has been developed over centuries. One of the key parts to the judicial system is that both the defence and prosecution are adequately represented, and that their submissions to a Court are judged by appropriately trained and qualified judicial office holders. If victims are to be given control of our criminal justice system why have a Court in the first place? Bring back public floggings and hanging. There will be no need for a trial!

Victims of crime deserve to have their voice heard, that is why the Prosecution exists, to put forward the victim's case in Court.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry Gavin, but once I got to this point:-

"Home Office Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said that, while crime is at record low levels..."

I just couldnt continue - Im sure it was a great article though!

P.S. Isnt there some kind of deception/fraud or obtaining advantage type law he can be charged with?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could think of it as a counterpoint to the sentencing/probation service report on the criminal

Anonymous said...

What does the government achieve?

Hmm, nice headlines in the 'meejah', a few Sun readers votes and a nice warm fuzzy feeling.

Anonymous said...

Thanks your critique helped me with my university essay :)

James said...

Well, so much for the government of laws not men...

themorningstarangel said...

Gavin, some victims are never allowed to voice their opinion. I have been a victim of a cyberstalker/harrasser and bully for almost six years. The frist incident was a barage of anonymous attacks late 2001, with emails saying he would harrass me for years to come. No action was taken when i reported this at the time. Then it went quite for a couple of years, but began again in earnest just over a year ago. I was harrassed, abused and threatened in a famous artist networking chatroom and in another by this same stalker. He would post nasty libelous articles in an online magazine which stayed up for months available to 51 million visitors a day to the site, effectively having a drastic impact on my career as an artist, causing my google ranking to fall from over 120 thousand before the attacks began last year, to just over 500 today. I went quiet online for a few days over a month ago and this frustrated my stalker who then began sending a series of 12 threatening and hate filled obscene emails to me. Three weeks ago the Police this time took action and apprehended my stalker, who they found on their crime computer had done this before to someone else two years ago. This stalker has made my life hell for ages now, causing me anxiety and depression, and has scarred me psychologically, causing me physical symptoms and agoraphobia.

Despite these types of crime being labelled by the home office as 'priority crimes' my local police are refusing to prosecute my stalker. I have not had any support from victim support who sent me a letter after the police recorded an official homophobic hate crime, when i phoned them for support they told me there was nothing that they could do for me. Other police forces actively advertise how they will prosecute this type of crime, but instead, the officer dealing with mine, told me last week that if i sent him one more email that he would have me for harrassment. I consulted a solicitor who told me they should be prosecuting my stalker, but the police will not listen to me. All they would tell me is that i have recourse through civil action against my stalker, but i am impecunious and on benefits which are below poverty level and cannot afford such action. From what i have been reading here, it seems that legal aid should be available for this type of civil action, what do you think. You can email me at themorningstarangel@yahoo.co.uk if you have any positive advice for me. thanks.

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