OUR COMMENT ON VICTIMS’ CODE OF PRACTICE (VCOP)
- August 28, 2020
- Posted by: Aran Knowles
- Category: Uncategorized
Through Unity are proud to be members of the Victims’ Reference Group at City Hall in London. The group forms part of the mechanism of improving outcomes for all Victims of Crime throughout the country as it feeds directly in to other forums and ‘machinery’ striving to drive forward legislative change & vital improvements .
The VRG is overseen by Claire Waxman (London’s Victims’ Commissioner and a prominent champion for victims’ rights, leading a successful campaign for change in stalking laws and spearheading the Victims’ Law campaign), is Chaired by Gabrielle Brown (a well known Victims’ Rights Campaigner) and our very own CEO Robin Lockhart is the Vice Chair. The VRG links in directly to the Victims’ Board in London as well as with Dame Vera Baird (The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales).
The VRG works with key stakeholders and directly with victims themselves to improve their access to justice and recovery and to influence national policy making and hold partner agencies to account.
The Victims’ Code of Practice (VCOP) consultation took place between March – May 2020 whereby, Victims Reference Group members supported the development of and submitted a response to the Government’s revised version of the VCOP welcoming many of the changes, which includes consolidation into 12 easy-to-understand rights calling for strengthened rights in a number of areas.
Although the VCOP is not currently enshrined in law, we are pushing for this to take place in order that the recommendations made to date are implemented in order to uphold the Victims’ Rights and the Responsibilities of the authorities.
The recommendations made cover the whole journey of a Victim through the Criminal Justice System from occurrence of the crime, through the initial investigation, offers of support, going to court, the process at court, ensuring the the Victim is kept informed throughout and after the legal process has been completed (potentially through appeals, complaints and also the issue of post trial compensation).
The case has been made for the need for full Accountability to underpin the entire Code Of Practice For Victims Of Crime and we hope that this allows the formal legislation of a Victims’ Law.
After all of these developments, however, we still ask ‘What does this mean for those bereaved by homicide?’
For the members of Through Unity and other organisations supporting those bereaved through homicide, things remain uncertain as the VCOP covers the rights of living victims and currently the relatives of those homicide victims are not defined as primary victims… This is even more of an issue for those relatives of anyone murdered whilst abroad.
Whilst the newly revised VCOP is a massive step in the right direction and Through Unity are proud to be a small part in the on-going development of any future improvements , we also recognise that there is still a long way to go before Victims’ Rights are enshrined fully and adequately in law…