Justice Secretary promises action on Olivia Pratt-Korbel campaign - but will not commit to timescale

ITV News' Chloe Keedy speaks to the women at the centre of a fight for change

Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s family are fighting for a change in the law.

They want to see criminals forced to face their victims’ families in court - something Olivia’s killer refused to do.

Olivia’s mum, Cheryl, is demanding "action, not words" from the government, and her and her family have shown they are not afraid to take action themselves. 

This weekend, they took their Face the Family campaign to the streets of Liverpool.

Armed with thousands of flyers with a photo of their beloved "Liv" on the front, their aim was to raise as much awareness as possible of this petition, which they hope will lead to a change in the law.

"No family should have to go through a whole trial and have the offender not turn up for the sentencing," said Cheryl Korbel.

"It was awful... It was like a punch in the stomach.

"Actions speak louder than words, and we said we were going to make a noise.

"That’s exactly what we’re doing today."

Nine-year-old Olivia was shot and killed inside her home last August.

In April, Thomas Cashman was given a life sentence for her murder.

Olivia’s mum Cheryl and sister Chloe had prepared statements to read to him in court that day.

Cheryl Korbel, second left, was hurt in the same incident in which her daughter died. Credit: PA

Cheryl told me she wanted to look him in the eye and tell him how much pain he had caused to her and her family, but she never got the chance.

Under current law, offenders can’t be forced to attend their sentencing, and there are no penalties for them if they refuse to turn up.

Olivia's family are campaigning now because they don’t want any more families to have to go through the same ordeal. 

The Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has committed to bringing forward legislation aimed at stopping criminals from refusing to attend their sentencing.

He has told ITV News that it’s something he is "passionate" about.

"When that defendant or that offender is in the cells trying to get to sleep, I want the words of that judge ringing in their ears," he said.

Thomas Cashman refused to attend his sentencing for the murder of Olivia. Credit: PA

He added: "I’m looking at what levers are open to us - whether you’re talking about physically forcing people into court, or whether you’re talking about giving them additional sentence as a result.

"We’re looking very, very hard at this, and one thing I can tell you is that there will be a robust measure to ensure that justice is done, and justice being done means the defendant hearing society’s condemnation."

But the Justice Secretary wasn’t able to commit to a timescale, and what Olivia’s family want to know is - when? 

In the meantime, says Olivia’s aunt, Antonia, "more families are having to go through what we as a family have had to deal with and it’s not acceptable."

"It needs to be now, not later."

For them, they told me, this is just the beginning.

Olivia’s family see this campaign as a really important part of her legacy and say that, until there is a change in the law, they will keep handing out flyers, they will keep spreading the word and - in their words - they will keep making noise.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...