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Mayor calls for victims to be “heart” of criminal justice reform and announces new £3m a year victim care investment

Mayor calls for victims to be “heart” of criminal justice reform and announces new £3m a year victim care investment

Mayor calls for victims to be at the heart of criminal justice reform and announces new £3m a year investment to improve victim care

  • Mayor announces new annual £3m investment to enhance and expand the support the Met offers victims of crime in London
  • Sadiq and Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, agree that new funding will be used to improve delivery of victim care and support
  • Action comes as latest survey data shows that one in three victims of crime in London are unsatisfied with the level of service received from the Met police 
  • Mayor calls on Government to step up and start fulfilling the responsibilities it has to victims of crime and deliver a Victims Bill

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, calls for a major overhaul of the service victims of crime receive in their journey through the criminal justice system, and unveil a new £3million a year investment package to enhance and expand the support the Met police offers victims of crime in London.

The Mayor’s new annual investment of £3m will enable the Commissioner to progress his plans to improve the support the Met gives to victims. The funding, from City Hall, will be used to set up a new, free phoneline for victims of crime to receive dedicated support and develop mechanisms to make it easier for victims to access key information about their case. The funds will also increase the number of Met staff responsible for victim care and signpost victims to specialist support services.

The investment is part of a raft of new measures from City Hall to increase victim satisfaction and case outcomes, as the Mayor continues to support the new Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley in taking action to raise standards and rebuild public confidence and trust in the Met as part of his Turnaround Plan.

The Mayor will give a keynote speech at the Victims Summit in London where representatives from across the UK justice system and beyond will come together to share new ideas and drive forward changes to create a better criminal justice experience for victims.

The Victims Summit will be hosted by London’s Independent Victims Commissioner, Claire Waxman, and supported by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). It will bring together victims of crime and top criminal justice figures including the Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, Max Hill KC and Victims and Sentencing Minister, Edward Argar MP. International guests will also include the Justice Minister of Québec – Simon Jolin-Barrette – who will speak about the independent victims hubs in Canada.

In his speech, the Mayor will call for: 

  • The Government to ensure victims rights are enforceable through the delivery of a Victims Bill.
  • Immediate action to put victims at the heart of a criminal justice service so their “needs and considerations are not an afterthought, but an urgent priority.”
  • The need for a “justice service” as well as a better justice system that provides victims with the practical and emotional support they need at every stage of their journey through the criminal justice process.
  • Organisations to work together more cohesively to better support victims at all stages so they have the confidence to come forward in the first place.
  • The Government to start fulfilling their responsibilities to victims of crime by fixing the overwhelmed court system and properly funding the police and probation service so that public safety is not put at risk.

The Mayor’s new annual £3million investment to improve Met victim care and support is part of a package of measures from City Hall to ensure the right support is in place every step of the way from when victims first call the police in an emergency, to tailored support ahead of giving evidence at court. This will include timely case updates and referral to specialist services.

The investment will also work to support the Met police to exit special measures as quickly as possible and to accelerate the root and branch reforms and systemic change to the Met’s performance and culture. This action builds on £2.5m funding announced in January to improve the initial service received by victims of dialling 999 in an emergency. City Hall’s investment will improve the training and resilience of the Met’s Command and Control Centre (MetCC), which handles more than six million emergency calls and online queries from the public each year.

The action comes as new data from MOPAC shows that more than a third of victims are unsatisfied with the level of support they receive from the Met [1], with lack of communication cited as the main problem and too many victims left disconnected from the progression of their case.

The Mayor’s calls for a major overhaul of the criminal justice system come as data from the Ministry of Justice shows that there are currently over 16,200 outstanding cases in London Crown Courts – the highest since records began in 2014 [2]. Latest figures from the Crown Prosecution Service paint a similar picture of a failing system. They show a 15 per cent reduction in completed prosecutions at Crown Courts, including in cases of rape, domestic abuse and hate crime [3], as victims continue to be routinely let down by the criminal justice process.

To help prevent the criminal justice system from failing thousands more people, the Mayor, London’s Victims Commissioner, victim advocates and community leads are calling on the Government to take swift action to radically improve the journey victims have to take to secure justice. This means providing the long-term funding needed to tackle the ever-increasing backlog of cases; ensuring the criminal justice system is properly resourced and coordinated and ensuring victims’ rights are enforceable through the delivery of a Victims Bill.

The new £3million a year funding proposed is the latest action the Mayor is taking to improve support for victims of crime in London. Through MOPAC he has commissioned the London Victim and Witness Service (LVWS), the largest victims support service of its kind in England and Wales, which offers a range of services including mental health support, help with home and personal safety and advice on how to prepare for a court trial. The LVWS supported nearly 50,000 victims and witnesses in the previous financial year.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The more time you spend with victims, the more you appreciate the extent to which crime blights lives. It can be – and often is – a devastating, violating and traumatising experience. It is imperative therefore that in their interactions with the authorities – the very institutions that are there to serve and protect them – victims are treated with the utmost compassion, sensitivity and respect.

“That’s why I’ve provided an additional £3m per year to significantly improve the support victims receive in their journey through the criminal justice system. Successful prosecution of cases often rely on victim’s testimonies, so we need to do much more to inspire victims’ confidence.

“The Government now has a responsibility to ensure victim’s rights are put at the heart of long overdue criminal justice reform and that these changes are made enforceable through the delivery of a Victims Bill.  It is only by having a justice system that truly lives up to its name that we can build a fairer, safer and more equal London for all.”

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London’s Victims’ Commissioner, Claire Waxman OBE, said: “Today’s Summit will shine a much needed light on the convoluted and disjointed justice journey victims in this country are left to navigate without the right information, support and advice, and often waiting years in the process. It’s no surprise that so many feel unable to stay in this system. Every victim I speak with has been clear about what needs to change; they want somebody independent to help them navigate the justice system, ensure they are receiving their rights and support, and guarantee their voice is heard, and I believe a Victim Care Hub could deliver this for victims.

I welcome the Mayor’s investment today, as this will greatly help the Metropolitan Police improve their service to victims. But today goes beyond the Mayor and the police; this is about all partners working towards a whole systems change in the way victims are regarded and treated by our justice system. I hope by bringing together leaders from across the justice system in this country and from abroad, and with victims’ and survivors’ voices firmly at the heart of today’s discussions, Government will understand the transformative and ground-breaking work needed in this space. I’m hopeful my Summit will inspire action and move us towards my vision for an Independent Victim Care Hub”.

Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, said: “Being a victim of crime, whether it’s sexual assault, knife crime or a violent robbery, can leave long-lasting physical, mental and emotional scars. That’s why we need to ensure victims have the best support possible.

“The £3million annual funding announced today is part of a wide range of support from City Hall to improve the care and support victims of crime receive from the police from the first call to our London Victim and Witness Service which is supporting tens of thousands of victims and witnesses a year with a range of services including mental health support, help with home and personal safety and advice on how to prepare for a court trial. It’s vital the government do their bit to help put victims first.”

Jade Blue McCrossen-Nethercott, a survivor speaking at the Victims Summit, said: “As a survivor who has navigated the challenges of the criminal justice system, I am proud to be able to use my experience today – with the support of London’s Victims’ Commissioner – to amplify the need for increased and sustainable funding for vital support services for victims. While progress is being made, there needs to be a more joined up approach by justice agencies in their support of victims, and that is why I welcome the London Victims’ Commissioner’s calls for a Victim Care Hub.”

Head of Policy, Campaigns and Research at Southall Black Sister, Dr Hannana Siddiqui, said: “Survivors from black and minority communities face many challenges in the criminal justice system. They often lack trust and confidence in the police, and migrant survivors in particular fear that they would be reported to the Home Office and removed from the UK rather than safeguarded. 

“The London Victim’s Commissioner is not only working to improve policing and victim care services, she also supports our demand for a ‘firewall’ to prevent data sharing between the police and Immigration Enforcement. We welcome this support as it will help many vulnerable and marginalised survivors to come forward to report abuse, obtain justice and hold perpetrators to account.”

Justice Minister of Quebec, Simon Jolin-Barrette, said: “It is an honour to have been invited to the Victims Summit by London’s Victims’ Commissioner, Ms. Claire Waxman, to present our specialist court for sexual and domestic violence. This event is an opportunity to discuss best practices in supporting victims and I am happy to see that our progress in Quebec is attracting the interest of other states around the world. Let’s work together to rebuild victims’ trust in the justice system.”