Headlines: February 25th, 2003

Victims of crime have been recruited to form a Victims Advisory Panel. The Panel will meet four times each year and report directly to Home Secretary David Blunkett. The creation of the Panel is one of the measures to fulfill the Government’s pledge to put victims and witnesses at the heart of the Criminal Justice System.The ten members of the panel have been affected by a variety of crimes including murder, rape and stalking. Many have experienced what it is like to give evidence in court. They will play an important role in the reforms outlined in the Criminal Justice White Paper by identifying good practice and promoting a culture where all victims and witnesses of crime are treated fairly and with respect. They will also give their views on how amends are made for the harm victims have suffered. By sharing their experiences it is hoped that they will generate ideas and practical proposals for improving services to victims and witnesses as well as advising Ministers about their needs.

The first national strategy for victims and witnesses due to be published in the spring will set out a framework for the ways in which agencies should provide support. A draft Victims and Witnesses Bill will be published in the summer.

The Prison Services has launched an initiative to cut crime and create fewer victims of crime by reducing re-offending. The initiative, which is partly funded by the European Social Fund, will seek to remove the barriers to employment experienced by many people in prison today. By promoting resettlement schemes, the initiative aims to break the cycle of re-offending. The schemes will draw on the expertise of a number of specialist groups.

Information provided by Horn Ltd, suppliers of specialist police information http://www.Horn.ltd.uk