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Crime victims' treatment by police and courts examined

Police officer Image copyright PA
Image caption The police's behaviour toward victims will be scrutinised

The way crime victims are treated by the police and courts in England and Wales is to be examined.

The victims' commissioner, Baroness Newlove, has launched a series of reviews to scrutinise the work of criminal justice agencies.

Lady Newlove said she was challenging the government to "take action" to help people cope with the "haunting aftermath" of crime.

The government said she was bringing about "positive change".

'Real difference'

Baroness Newlove, who campaigned for victims' rights following the murder of her husband Gary in 2007, was made victims' commissioner in 2012.

Launching the reviews in her annual report on Tuesday, she said: "Victims deserve the very best possible support to get them through the haunting aftermath of crime.

"If they are not getting this - their concerns need to be taken seriously and improvements need to be made as a result."

Image caption Baroness Newlove was appointed victims' commissioner in 2012

She said she would be looking at good and bad practice across the different services, adding: "With the findings of each review, I will be challenging the government and other agencies to take action and make a real difference to victims and their families."

The reviews will assess compliance with the Victims' Code, which was revised in October 2013 and includes the right of victims to personally address offenders in court to explain how a crime has affected them.

The first review, conducted by a three-person team, will start in the autumn, also looking at handling of complaints and the use of restorative justice.

Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive at Victim Support, said: "We welcome the victims' commissioner's decision to make monitoring the code a priority because we know from supporting hundreds of thousands of victims and witnesses every year how important it is that they are treated with dignity and respect."

The issue was key to maintaining public confidence in the criminal justice system, Mr Pemberton added.

Damian Green, the victims' minister, welcomed Baroness Newlove's report.

He said: "Her position is instrumental in holding to account the positive change brought about by this government, such as the greatly improved Victims' Code which gives those impacted by crime a much greater voice.

"This report shows the value the Victims' Commissioner has already brought and provides an excellent basis for delivering further improvements."

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