25 February 2021
Victims’ rights may be enshrined in law
In the news this week, reference was made as to whether victims of crime should have rights enshrined in law to put them at the heart of the criminal justice system. The fact that we even need to consider this shows that the current system is flawed and that victims are often the forgotten part of an investigation and wider criminal justice system. We should not have to legislate for what victims should be entitled to in any event.
Jonothan Moss, a senior lawyer in our dispute resolution team, has commented on many occasions how victims are often short changed. They are too frequently advised that a case will not proceed against a suspect given a lack of evidence when upon a deeper legal review, the reasons can in fact be resourced based or a misunderstanding of the law by the authorities. Being a victim of crime can be a horrific event in your life and at that time you need to be able to trust the police will undertake a proper investigation and not rely upon disingenuous or inappropriate reasons for the early termination of that investigation. The former simply brings the system into disrepute and undermines public confidence.
On one level, it seems that giving rights may empower victims but perhaps a better idea would be to properly resource the system itself. Having rights is potentially a step forward but on another interpretation, there is little point having rights if they cannot be enforced. So, will thought be given to funding victims to receive their own independent advice? Without this, it is likely any changes will not move victims forward and would in reality add no additional protection.
Jonothan’s view is that this idea is likely to be kicked into the long grass but time will tell.