Deputy Mayor orders independent review of victim and witness services

12 September 2013

A major independent review is to be carried out into the treatment of victims of crime and witnesses in London, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, announced today.

The in-depth review of services offered to crime victims and witnesses in the capital will be led by Baroness Helen Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner. The role of the Victims’ Commissioner is to promote the interests and help improve the service and support available to victims and witnesses. The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is committed to delivering on London’s first Police and Crime Plan, where it has set out targets to reduce key crimes by 20 per cent, cut costs by 20 per cent and boost public confidence in the police by 20 per cent by 2016.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has the lowest victim satisfaction rating of any force and victims in London face the longest delays in getting their cases heard in court. Four in ten victims in the capital think that the criminal justice system fails to provide them with the support that they need and over a quarter feel that the views of victims and witnesses are not taken into account.

Since the appointment of the MPS Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in 2011, the MPS has made victim care a priority, with a guaranteed offer of a personal visit to all victims of crime that has led to an extra 175 victim visits a day. However more progress is needed. As the independent champion of the interests of victims and witnesses, the Victims’ Commissioner is uniquely placed to bring together previous research with fresh analysis to inform the MOPAC’s decisions as they prepare to take on the responsibility for funding victim services from October 2014.

The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh said “I am delighted that the Victims’ Commissioner has agreed to lead this in-depth review of the services offered to victims and witnesses in London. Being a victim of crime can ruin lives and can undermine public confidence in policing and our entire criminal justice system if the support is inadequate. The Metropolitan Police are taking important steps to improve the service they offer victims, but we need the whole criminal justice system to improve the support they provide. This review will shine a spotlight on current practice so we can identify where the gaps in services for victims are and make sure every victim is treated with dignity and respect”.

Baroness Newlove said “I am looking forward to working with The Mayors Office for Policing and Crime to review how witnesses and victims and crime are supported in London. I am aware of some wonderful voluntary and statutory groups who support vulnerable people and I want to make sure that all service providers are heard and not those that shout loudest. I know from my own experience how the correct support can help you and your loved ones and sadly and all too often that when that support is not made available how people can suffer. Victims of crime should not be provided services based solely on crime types but on their individual needs. What I do know is that victims collectively want what is happening to them to stop and this review needs to focus on making this happen and supporting individual victims’ needs.”

MOPAC Challenge will convene in the City Hall Chamber at 10.00 am this morning to look at how victims’ needs are currently met by the criminal justice system and how services might be improved in the future. Alongside delegates from MOPAC and the Victims Commissioner, the Challenge meeting will be attended by senior representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Metropolitan Police Service, Crown Prosecution Service, the Courts Service, London Probation Trust, Victim Support, Imkaan, and Galop.

This is the first time that the Victims’ Commissioner has been called in to examine the service provision in a local area and the review’s findings will be made public.

 

Notes to editors

  • In the year to 31 August, there were 696,254 victims of crime in London, and despite an overall fall of 7% in the year to date, London accounts for up to a quarter of all recorded crime in England and Wales. Levels of victimization and victim satisfaction vary significantly across different groups of victims, with young people almost 10% more likely to report that they have been victims of crime. Victims are twice as likely as non-victims to say they do not have confidence in the police (18% compared to 9%)
  • MOPAC Challenge will convene in the City Hall Chamber at 10.00 am this morning to look at how victims’ needs are currently met by the criminal justice system and how services might be improved in the future. Alongside delegates from MOPAC and the Victims Commissioner, the Challenge meeting will be attended by senior representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Metropolitan Police Service, Crown Prosecution Service, the Courts Service, London Probation Trust, Victim Support, Imkaan, and Galop.
  • Annual funding for victim and witness services across the country will be devolved to Police and Crime Commissioners and the Mayor’s Office in October 2014 and the Ministry of Justice are proposing to allocate funding for these services based on population. In order to make informed commissioning decisions for these services, the Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan commits MOPAC to commission an independent and comprehensive analysis of victim support services.
  • Since May 2012, every victim in London is entitled to a visit from police to investigate an allegation of crime. Between September 2012-August 2013 the MPS have made 157095 appointments, which is a daily average of 430 appointments, an increase of 175 extra appointments per day. Visiting victims has significantly impacted on victim satisfaction. Vehicle crime is the crime type that has been most affected. Vehicle crime satisfaction has increased by 10% (70-80%) since the introduction of visits to victims.
  • The Terms of Reference for the review are available at http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/mission-priorities/victims
  • The Office of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales has a mission:

To promote the interests of victims' and witnesses;

Encourage good practice in the treatment of victims and witnesses; and

Keep under review the operation of the Code of Practice for Victims.

Sources:

MOPAC Challenge is streamed live at: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/mayor/webcasts