Justice secretary Dominic Rabb published new draft legislation that will give victims more support as they fight for justice. But charity Women’s Aid say we still need ring-fenced funding, particularly for services by and for black and minoritized women.
Under new legislation victims will be given the opportunity to share their views with prosecutors before trial in certain cases. The landmark document paves the way for the first-ever Victims’ Law. It gives victims of crimes the right to attend parole board hearings and question whether or not it is suitable for an offender to be released.
Raab said: “No victim should feel lost in a faceless system. We’re amplifying victims’ voices, boosting their rights at every stage and making criminals pay more to help victims recover. We’re doing this because it is morally the right thing to do to strengthen the care for victims, but also because it is operationally critical to drive-up convictions – and keep our streets safe.”
The new legislation will be in place to support and protect all victims, but it is hoped that these changes will make it easier for survivors of rape to seek justice. Particularly in light of a report on the Crown Prosecution Service released earlier this year that found those who reported sexual violence were being “continually and systematically failed”.
“We’re amplifying victims’ voices, boosting their rights at every stage and making criminals pay more to help victims recover.” - Dominic Raab
While this is an incredible step in the right direction many campaigners feel there’s still a long way to go to make sure victims feel empowered in their pursuit of justice. Chief executive at Women’s Aid, Farah Nazeer said: “We welcome the publication of the victims’ bill and are hopeful that the duty on police and crime commissioners, local authorities and health organisations to work together will help ensure these services are much more effective in meeting survivors’ needs. As we called for in our consultation response, this duty must be underpinned by sustainable, multi-year funding for community-based domestic abuse services, including ring-fenced funding for ‘by and for’ services for black and minoritised women.
“While Independent Domestic Violence Advisors can offer a lifeline of support to survivors, any statutory definition of IDVAs must not create a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’, which would neglect the variety of specialist advocacy and wraparound support that specialist services, particularly those provided ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised communities, provide. Defining the role of an IDVA risks failing to recognise these roles, creating additional barriers to Black and minoritised survivors accessing the specialist support they need.
“There must be sustainable, multi-year funding for community-based domestic abuse services, including ring-fenced funding for ‘by and for’ services for black and minoritised women.” - Farah Nazeer, Women’s Aid
“We look forward to engaging with the justice select committee in its pre-legislative scrutiny of the bill to ensure it effectively supports all survivors of domestic abuse.”
Once the draft Victim’s Bill has gone through pre-legislative scrutiny by the Commons Justice Select Committee, their comments will be considered before it is presented to parliament.