Policy Briefing - Victims Law Consultation

This briefing paper gives you the background to the consultation and sets out the response the Restorative Justice Council has made to it. 

A Revised Victims’ Code was launched in November 2020 and took effect from April 2021. At the time of the launch the Government said that it would shortly be consulting on the introduction of a Victims’ Law. The primary purpose of such legislation is to put the rights of the Revised Victims’ Code into primary legislation. At the moment their status is that of statutory guidance.

The Revised Victims’ Code distilled the entitlements set out in the previous versions of the Code into 12 rights, which are:

1. To be able to understand and be understood

2. To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay

3. To be provided with information, including restorative justice, when reporting the crime

4. To be referred to services, including restorative justice services, that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs

5. To be provided with information about compensation

6. To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution

7. To make a Victim Personal Statement

8. To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness

9. To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals

10. To be paid expenses and have property returned

11. To be given information about the offender following a conviction

12. To make a complaint about your rights not being met

The Code is not perfect by any means and the Victims’ Commissioner has advocated important proposals to improve it. However, it is a significant step forward and it is important that everyone working with victims is aware of it and makes sure victims know about it too.

From a restorative justice point of view, rights 3 and 4 are the most relevant. Right 3 requires that victims should be given information about victim support services, including restorative justice (Paragraph 3.4). This part of the Code also includes a paragraph explaining what restorative justice is. Right 4 requires that victims be referred to such services, including restorative justice services (Paragraph 4.5), depending on availability.

Apart from rights 3 and 4, there are also opportunities to apply restorative approaches in other areas. It is important to make sure that the system as a whole takes responsibility for providing information about, and making referrals to, RJ services at every point in the victim’s journey and not just at the beginning.

The consultation asks 49 questions, under a number of headings, organised into 4 chapters. The consultation paper does not mention restorative justice and this is of course a matter of concern to the RJC and its members.

You can donwload a summary of the RJC response below.

Further information about the RJC’s response to the Victims’ Law Consultation is available from David Smith Policy and Communications Officer RJC.

E: David.smith@restorativejustice.org.uk

Resource themes: 
Courts and sentencing, Criminal justice, Education, Health, Mental health, Neighbourhood justice, Police, Prison, Probation, Victims, Youth justice
Resource categories: 
Policy and research, Publications