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Changes to improve victims' experience of the criminal justice process come into force today (Dec 10).In addition to changes nationally, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Avon and Somerset is also asking victims of crime in the force area to provide feedback of their experiences of the criminal justice system locally.A revised Code of Practice for Victims of Crime was published by the Ministry of Justice in October and has now been officially launched.The new code means that all victims are now legally entitled to make a victim personal statement (VPS) to explain how the crime affected them.The revisions to the code will also mean that all businesses will be able to set out the impact a crime has had on them, in a similar way to the VPS.The code sets out more detailed guidelines for the service provided to vulnerable, intimidated and persistently targeted victims and victims of serious crime to ensure the service they receive is tailored and focused around their needs. For the first time, the code also contains a section specifically for children and young people.As part of a wider review of the victim's experience, Avon and Somerset PCC Sue Mountstevens has been running a consultation to seek feedback from victims of crime.The consultation aims to increase understanding of the views of victims and to use this to influence future services.Anyone in the force area who has been a victim of crime is encouraged to complete the questionnaire and can do so online, by phone, email or post. Alternatively, people can simply write to the police or PCC about their experience, in their own words.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "I want to give all victims a louder voice and I feel the Victims Code of Practice is an important development in ensuring that victims receive the best service, tailored to their individual needs, to help them with their recovery. "I am particularly supportive of Victim Personal Statements which enable victims' voices to be heard, truly putting them at the heart of the criminal justice system. I am currently consulting with victims on their experiences of the criminal justice system and would encourage people to share them with me."Assistant Chief Constable Dave Hayler said: "We are fully committed to being a victim-focused organisation, and working hard with our partners to improve the victim's journey and put them at the heart of the Criminal Justice process. The re-launch of the Victim's Code provides us with a good opportunity to refresh our approach, and ensure all officers and staff are fully aware of the requirements contained within the revised code."For information about completing the PCC's questionnaire go to www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police.uk or call 0117 952 9474.For more information about the Victim's Code of Practice go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime