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Putting the victim back in control is so crucial

Posted: Friday 1st November 2013
Blog: Blogs

This week the Ministry of Justice published the Victims Code of Practice, a document which intends to help work towards simplifying and improving both the process and service for victims. Putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system is one of my priorities and I strongly welcome this development in helping me to achieve my vision on behalf of victims. It will also act as a single point of reference not only to help me hold the police to account for the service victims receive but also promotes a cohesive working relationship with criminal justice partners. 

Putting the victim back in control by giving them the chance to read their Victim Personal Statement to the court, I think is a really important progression in the victim’s journey. Choosing to address offenders face-to-face for some can be a daunting but significant step in the recovery process. Next year I will be looking at shaping plans for victims’ services in Avon and Somerset and as such I am currently looking to hear from victims about their experiences, about what works well and what we can do better. More information about this can be found on my website.

For some victims the outcome is unimaginable and I would like to take the time to pass on my sincerest condolences to the family of Bijan Ebrahimi who continue to suffer in coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. I want to reiterate the words of Bristol Mayor George Ferguson that those whose rumours and scaremongering led to this abhorrent crime are the minority and do not represent the wider community and further add that this abominable behaviour will not be tolerated in Bristol or indeed the whole of Avon and Somerset.

Also this week I joined fellow Police and Crime Commissioner’s in London to discuss Government plans for Transforming Rehabilitation and their proposals to see partnerships between voluntary and community sector organisations. These changes are far reaching in the way that probation will supervise offenders. It is a positive move that those who receive less than a 12 months sentence will now get support to reduce their risk of reoffending. But there are tensions about how we can protect the very successful Integrated Offender Management scheme which has resulted in a large reduction of criminal offences ensuring safer communities. That is why I am on the Transforming Rehabilitation Reference group ensuring the best way forward with these government reforms.

As PCC have a responsibility for scoping policing and community safety services to achieve safer communities and deliver on the Police and Crime Plan, all aspects of which are intricately linked with the work of probation. Probation work to reduce re-offending and protect local people from the upset that prolific offenders cause. Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to an awards ceremony hosted by Avon and Somerset Probation celebrating 20 years of successful work. The Employment, Training and Education Services Awards recognised the efforts of those throughout Probation who are helping ex-offenders to secure stable and sustainable employment. It was a privilege to congratulate some very worthy winners for their efforts.

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