Warning over victims' treatment

Lack of awareness of the Victims' Code by people working in the criminal justice system is placing some crime victims under extreme duress and leading to injustices, a watchdog has warned today.

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Watchdog: 'Crime victims put under extreme duress'

The Parliamentary Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor claims that the victims of crime are being put under "extreme duress" because of a lack of awareness of their rights.

The Victim's Code tells people what they can expect from the moment they report a crime to the end of a trial.

The government is unveiling new proposals to update the Code which would give extra support to the victims of the most serious offences and also offer specialist support to young people.

Victims, including those who have been subjected to serious crime, such as sexual assault, have spoken to us about how they have been left feeling powerless and shattered.

Failures by agencies to recognise even the most basic rights of those victims under the Code, such as being told that the charges against the defendant have changed or that an appeal was taking place, have added to their distress and undermined their confidence in the criminal justice system.

From customer inquiry teams to legal advisers, from court ushers to area directors, knowledge of the Code and of the standard of service victims have the right to expect is alarmingly thin on the ground.

– Dame Julie Mellor, Parliamentary Ombudsman

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