PCCs advocate for stronger victims bill
APCC Joint Victims’ Leads Sophie Linden and Caroline Henry gave evidence at the Public Bill Committee held on Tuesday 20 June, where they argued stronger measures must be included which enforce agencies to collaborate and share data.
Caroline Henry, who is also the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, opened the session by reflecting on the tragic events in Nottingham last week. She expressed her sincere condolences to those affected and reflected on the importance of victim focused collaboration following major incidents.
She said: “This bill proposes to introduce a requirement to collaborate. The awful events in Nottingham demonstrated once again that collaboration is essential, and that at all times we need to be victim-focussed. PCCs are ideally placed to facilitate that collaboration.
Proposals in the Victims and Prisoners Bill include creating a role for Police and Crime Commissioners to monitor how criminal justice bodies in their area comply with the Victims’ Code.
The bill also sets out plans to improve support to victims including a statutory duty for partner agencies to collaborate. Questions were asked about the new responsibilities outlined in the draft bill and how these would work in practice.
Deputy Mayor for London, Sophie Linden, said: “We welcome the bill but how it works in practice will be dependent on what else happens to strengthen it.
“We need something within the bill, perhaps akin to the way the Information Commissioners Office works, to ensure data is successfully and effectively shared across agencies and to PCCs. We must also understand what the mechanisms and sanctions are for non-compliance.”
Both Sophie and Caroline stressed the importance of additional funding for services and ensuring flexibility in the approach for the delivery of the responsibilities placed on PCCs.
Nottinghamshire PCC Caroline Henry said: “As well as investing in parole provisions I would like to see some of this money ringfenced for the delivery of these responsibilities. However, I do acknowledge that investment in this area will assist in preventing reoffending which therefore prevents further victims.”
The Committee raised the announcement from the Crime Prosecution Service who yesterday, Monday 19 June, pledged their commitment to meet with some victims ahead of their trial.
In her capacity as Deputy Mayor for London, Sophie responded: “We are really pleased to see this announcement and believe it will make a positive impact to victims in the system.
“However, we must see better end-to-end join up across the system to create a seamless service for victims. The bill could be the vehicle for mandated data sharing. It must support agencies in sharing information about cases, offenders and victims to create a system that works better to support users.”