Dominic Raab today attacks Labour’s ‘spineless’ opposition to Tory law and order reforms as he launches a swathe of new rights for victims of crime.
The Justice Secretary, writing exclusively for the Daily Mail, blasts Sir Keir Starmer’s party for voting against tough action on offenders.
And he vows the measures will ‘help victims secure justice, lock up more dangerous criminals – and make our streets safer’.
A Victims Bill, published by the Government today, sets out to ‘fire up our justice system to do better’, Mr Raab says.
Justice Secretary Dominic Rabb, pictured, will publish a new Victims Bill today claiming too many people are dropping out of the criminal justice system after losing faith in the police and the courts
Mr Raab writes in today’s Daily Mail: ‘Labour voted against tougher sentences for child murderers and sex offenders, voted against boosting police funding and penny-pinched the victims of crime’
Under the package, victims will be given the right to attend Parole Board hearings in full and submit questions about an offender’s suitability for release.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers will have a new duty to arrange a face-to-face meeting with each victim of crime before cases come to court.
Figures show growing numbers of victims are dropping out of the criminal justice process after losing faith in the police and courts.
Mr Raab writes: ‘Labour voted against tougher sentences for child murderers and sex offenders, voted against boosting police funding and penny-pinched the victims of crime.
‘In the teeth of their spineless opposition, we’re delivering a Conservative plan to help victims secure justice, lock up more dangerous criminals – and make our streets safer.’ He says it is ‘soul-destroying’ when victims ‘don’t feel that their voices matter’.
The victim surcharge paid by offenders will rise by 20 per cent in a move forecast to raise an additional £20million by 2025.
This will be spent on rape support centres and other measures to help victims.
The draft legislation will also pave the way for the first ‘Victims Law’, making police and the CPS more accountable, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said.
Among the changes, the Parole Board – which faced heavy criticism for approving the release of double child-killer Colin Pitchfork – will have to consider victims’ concerns before making a decision.
Mr Raab has already promised further reforms to the Parole Board – set for later this year – including a new veto for ministers to block the release of serious criminals.
Commentating on Keir Starmer’s opposition, Mr Raab wrote: ‘In the teeth of their spineless opposition, we’re delivering a Conservative plan to help victims secure justice, lock up more dangerous criminals – and make our streets safer.’ He says it is ‘soul-destroying’ when victims ‘don’t feel that their voices matter’
The obligation on CPS lawyers to meet victims ahead of trial is designed to ensure their views are fully taken into account.
Mr Raab said: ‘No victim should feel lost in a faceless system.
‘We’re amplifying victims’ voices, boosting their rights at every stage and making criminals pay more to help victims recover.
‘We’re doing this because it is morally the right thing to do to strengthen the care for victims, but also because it is operationally critical to drive up convictions – and keep our streets safe.’
Also announced today are a new duty on police and crime commissioners, local authorities and health organisations to work together when commissioning services for victims of domestic abuse, sex crimes and serious violence.
Complainants will no longer have to go through their local MP before speaking to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Ministers will also be able to order the criminal justice inspectorates to carry out specific victim-focused inquiries.
Official figures show more than 26 per cent of all potential prosecutions collapse because victims withdraw their support. For violent crime the figure is nearly 44 per cent and for rape it is 33 per cent.
Crime rose by 14 per cent to 12.9million offences in England and Wales last year – but just one in 16 offenders was brought to justice.
Labour opposed a series of measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill when it passed through Parliament this year
The proportion of crimes which led to police bringing a charge or summons fell to just 6 per cent in the year to September. It stood at more than 15 per cent in 2015.
Labour opposed a series of measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill when it passed through Parliament this year.
The draft Victims Bill will face scrutiny by MPs on the Commons justice committee before being formally introduced to Parliament.
Justice system must do better
By SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE, DOMINIC RABB MP
It is shocking that three in five victims don’t report their crimes and a third drop out of a prosecution before justice is done.
That is soul-destroying: they just don’t feel that their voices matter. I am determined to show that they do.
Victims expect firm justice, so this Conservative government – opposed by Labour and the Lib Dems – has passed into law tougher prison sentences for violent and sexual offenders.
But punishment isn’t enough.
Justice secretary Dominic Rabb, pictured outside 10 Downing Street, will announce a 20 per cent increase in the victim surcharge paid by offenders in court
Victims must be compensated more for their suffering – by their assailants.
So, today, I am announcing an increase in the victim surcharge, levied by courts on offenders, of 20 per cent.
It will pay millions more in cash for support services that directly help victims.
Overall, this Conservative government is increasing by fourfold the funding for victims compared with the miserly amount allocated under Labour.
In the final year of the Labour government, the party spent £41million on victims. We’ll spend £185million by 2024-25.
Next, I want to make sure the voice and pain of victims fires up our justice system to do better.
So, under our Victims Bill and broader package, published today, there will be a commitment for prosecutors to meet victims in the most serious cases before going to trial. It’s the right thing to do morally.
And, operationally, reinforcing the confidence of victims to come forward will increase the number of dangerous perpetrators we can convict and jail – making our neighbourhoods safer.
Victims’ confidence is also rocked when they see dangerous offenders released too early.
The views of victims matter. The ordeals they’ve suffered matter.
So, for the first time, we will change the law to ensure victims have the right – only if they feel up to it – to attend Parole Board hearings and put their questions to the decision-makers.
Labour voted against tougher sentences for child murderers and sex offenders, voted against boosting police funding and penny-pinched the victims of crime.
In the teeth of their spineless opposition, we’re delivering a Conservative plan to help victims secure justice, lock up more dangerous criminals – and make our streets safer.