Priti Patel is the Member of Parliament for Witham.
Today I have a 10 Minute Rule Bill on the Rights of Victims of Crime. The Bill is seeking to introducing legislation to give more rights to victims of crime and their families through a new enforceable Code of Practice. The Bill would enable a number of gaps in the provision of support services available to victims to be closed and for the criminal justice system to be rebalanced to give victims more rights. With figures from the British Crime Survey showing that twice as many people believe the criminal justice system is fair to those accused of committing a crime (80%) than meets the needs of a victim of crime (36%), there is a clear need to ensure the rights of victims are protected.
Delays burying bodies of murder victims – 78% of bereaved families wait more than 28 days to bury loved ones and 6% wait more than 6 months. The Code will implement the recommendation by the Victims’ Commissioner to give families the right to bury body within 28 days (which would enshrine guidance into law).
The Code would give new rights to families of murder victims to receive support and help in the criminal justices system and make legal proceedings more victim-friendly. 51% of bereaved families currently find the criminal justice system the most difficult issue to deal with. The Code will also require authorities to provide more specialist emotional and practical support for bereaved families.
Families of murder victims abroad do not feel as though they are treated as victims of crime by British authorities (only 13% feel they are). The Code will put on a statutory footing a voluntary memorandum of understanding developed by the charity Support After Murder and Manslaughter Abroad and the Govt, which will give bereaved families the right to access victim support services in the UK and receive more help from UK authorities, e.g such as receiving advice from the British Police on murder investigations to help them to make enquiries with foreign police about the investigation into their loved ones’ murder.
The Code would give more protections to victims of crime from offenders. For example, would give victims more powers to prevent criminals accessing the media in prison to cause them offence.