Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Archive for December 2013

Changes to the treatment of victims

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In October 2013, the Government published its revised Code of Guidance for victims. This sets out a list of entitlements to which victims are supposed to have. These include:

  • An enhanced service if you are a victim of serious crime, a persistently targeted victim or a vulnerable or intimidated victim;
  • A needs assessment to help work out what support you need;
  • Information on what to expect from the criminal justice system;
  • Be referred to organisations supporting victims of crime;
  • Be informed about the police investigation, such as if a suspect is arrested and charged and any bail conditions imposed;
  • Make a Victim Personal Statement (VPS) to explain how the crime affected you;
  • Read your VPS aloud or have it read aloud on your behalf, subject to the views of the court, if a defendant is found guilty;
  • Be informed if the suspect is to be prosecuted or not or given an out of court disposal;
  • Be informed about how you can seek a review of CPS decisions not to prosecute, to discontinue or offer no evidence in all proceedings;
  • Be informed of the time, date and location and outcome of any court hearings;
  • Be informed if you need to give evidence in court, what to expect and discuss what help and support you might need with the Witness Care Unit;
  • Arrange a court familiarisation visit and enter the court through a different entrance from the suspect and sit in a separate waiting area where possible;
  • Meet the CPS Prosecutor and ask him or her questions about the court process;
  • Be informed of any appeal against the offender’s conviction or sentence;
  • To opt into the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS) if the offender is sentenced to 12 months or more for a specified violent or sexual offence;
  • If you opt in to the VCS to:• make a VPS for consideration by the Parole Board if the offender is considered for release or transfer and apply to the Parole Board to read it out at the hearing;
  • make representations about the conditions attached to the offender’s licence on release and be informed about any licence conditions relating to you;
  • Apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme;
  • Receive information about Restorative Justice and how you can take part;
  • Make a complaint if you do not receive the information and services you are entitled to, and to receive a full response from the relevant service provider.

Just before Christmas 2013, the Government announced that from October 2014 its plans to run victim support services locally through the offices of the locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners. The Government has started a process designed to encourage groups to apply for contracts to run such services.

For more details see:

For the text of the Code: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime.

For a police view of the Code: http://www.police.uk/news/victims-code/

For details of the new contracting process: https://www.gov.uk/local-commissioning-of-victims-services

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Written by lwtmp

December 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Chapter 5

New Chair of Youth Justice Board

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Lord McNally becomes Chair of the Youth Justice Board from mid March 2014. He takes over from Frances Done who steps down at the end of January 2014.

See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lord-mcnally-appointed-new-chair-of-youth-justice-board

Written by lwtmp

December 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Chapter 5

The spread of specialist traffic courts

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The Government’s ambition to have a specialized traffic court operating in all 42 police areas of England and Wales by April 2014 seems to be more or less on track. A Press Release issued just before Christmas 2013 records that 29 areas now have such courts, able to deal with over 100 cases a motoring offences a day.

These include:

  • Driving licence related offences
  • Lighting offences
  • Load offences
  • Miscellaneous motoring offences (including trailer offences)
  • Motorway offences (other than speeding)
  • Neglect of pedestrian rights
  • Neglect of traffic directions
  • Noise offences
  • Obstruction, waiting and parking offences
  • Offences particular to motorcycles
  • Speed limit offences
  • Vehicle insurance offences
  • Vehicle test offences
  • Vehicles or parts in dangerous or defective condition

This has had the effect of reducing the time taken for such offences to be dealt with and also freed up time in other magistrates’ courts to deal with other offences.

See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/traffic-courts-up-and-running-in-twenty-nine-areas

Written by lwtmp

December 31, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Chapter 5

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