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After months of waiting and a significant delay for victims, I am pleased that the Ministry of Justice have finally published the draft Victims Bill.

Broadly, I welcome the publication of the bill with the responsibility it gives PCCs and the formality of recognising the status of an individual as a victim regardless of the conviction of an offender. But the Bill goes no where near far enough. The Ministry of Justice needs to be clearer on how they will ensure that there is consistency at a national, regional and local level.

The purpose of this bill is to improve the support that the government provides to victims and strengthen transparency and accountability of criminal justice agencies through enshrining the Victim’s Code in law.

I strongly welcome the importance placed on independent advisors, specifically Independent Domestic Violence Advisors/Independent Sexual Violence Advisors. Consistent funding for victim services is crucial if we are to improve responses to victims and ensure sustainable and long-lasting support. However, more needs to be done to recognise the experiences and needs of all victims of crime and the importance of the role other types of victim advocates play.

In the Bill, victim support services are defined as those for victims of domestic abuse, rape and serious sexual offences or serious violence only. This is simply not good enough. The government must not neglect the support needs of victims of all crime types and must ensure that it provides proportionate resourcing to carry out the critical duties placed upon PCCs and commissioned victim support services within the Bill.

The Bill must go further in setting out the effect of non-compliance with the Victim Code. There should be a clear focus on the consequence and processes in place to hold individual agencies to account for non-compliance and how they may be supported to deliver adequately against the code in future; ensuring victims in the West Midlands receive the level of service they are entitled to.

I will continue to act in my capacity as Victims’ Commissioner for the West Midlands to amplify the voice of the victims I represent and I will work with the Ministry of Justice, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and National Victims Commissioner to rectify my concerns within the draft Bill before it is laid before Parliament.

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