Baroness demands victims of crime be treated better than ‘protected’ UK criminals
Baroness Newlove has opened up about the treatment of those who fall victim to crime in the UK, describing how they are told not to cry while offenders have their rights “enshrined” in the European Convention for Human Rights.
The peer, and mother of three, said in her experience victims are made to feel like “bystanders” when their world has been turned upside down.
Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner, is preparing to demand a new law to put victims above the criminals.
The Baroness will speak at the Victims’ Conference in London, where she will say victims are protected only by a code described by lawyers as “persuasive guidance”.
“All too easily, victims’ entitlements fall prey to the impact of cutbacks,” she will say.
“So much has changed over the past 10 years. And yet, sadly, while countless initiatives have improved victim support, to many, the focus on the rights and needs of offenders, often appears to be at the expense of victims.
“Sometimes this can be startlingly obvious – victims being told not to cry when CCTV footage in court shows their loved one being beaten.
“Sexual abuse victims being informed their ISVA [Independent Sexual Violence Adviser] cannot be with them during the ordeal of giving evidence at trial. Or rape victims quizzed about their sexual history despite no court application to do so.”
Newlove’s husband Garry was beaten to death by a gang on his doorstep in Warrington, in August 2007.
Proposals for change from the Baroness will include the right to be involved in a case, from being consulted on the conditions of an offender’s release to being given the ability to request a review when charges are dropped.
After her husband’s brutal murder Newlove began campaigning.
She became a peer in 2010 and was appointed Victims’ Commissioner by the Government in 2012.
The Ministry of Justice has announced a victim’s strategy will be published by early 2018 and an Independent Public Advocate.
“We have also protected funding for victims, allocating around £96m ($127m) in 2017/18 to fund crucial support services for victims of crime.”
“Politicians constantly tell us that they’re committed to ‘putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system’,” Newlove will say.
“So why do victims complain how the justice system leaves them feeling like bystanders?”