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Crime victims treated like the 'poor relation'

Jul 28, 2010

from Dominic Casciani's article on BBC.co.uk:

The first commissioner for victims of crime in England and Wales says the criminal justice system treats them as a poor relation and an afterthought.

Too often victims found themselves a "sideshow" as police, prisons, lawyers and the courts focused on the offender, Louise Casey said.

She said too much time was spent trying to help all crime victims, rather than focusing on those in genuine need.

....The previous government had introduced a code for the treatment of victims, but research suggested that 80% of them neither needed nor wanted specialist support.

Ms Casey said the problem was that the remaining 20% were being let down by what was on offer. This included nobody official to talk to at court, no explanations of sentences and variable support in getting specialist trauma counselling.

The previous government had introduced a single official to support families of murder victims - but victims overall had "no enforceable rights" and experienced a "maybe service".

"Police may ask you if you need support, you might get a visit and you might or might not then get help," she said.

"You could receive over 30 letters [about your experiences] or you could receive none at all.

"If you have had your lawnmower stolen, you probably don't need three phone calls from Victim Support which is struggling to provide support for children who have been abused.

"The system is based on process and managing it, rather than the needs of victims and witnesses."

Read the whole article.

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