Firms to speak out over crime impact

BUSINESSES affected by crime will, for the first time, be able to express the precise impact on their operations and staff in a court of law.

It follows the launch of a Victims’ Code launched by the Government yesterday.

The code covers the support victims should expect at every stage of the process, from reporting a crime to post-trial support.

It will allow victims the opportunity to read a personal statement in court directly to offenders. Up to now judges have been able to read these statements privately but victims were not able to read them aloud.

Also for the first time, businesses, who are victims of 9.2 million crimes committed each year, will be able to have their say by writing an impact statement to explain to the court how a crime has affected them.

The code sets out enhanced support for victims of the most serious crime, persistently targeted and vulnerable or intimidated victims. It also includes a section dedicated to the needs of children and young people and their parents and guardians.

Detective Chief Inspector Deb Smith, the Head of Volume Crime for Wiltshire Police, said: “This code sets out explicitly a needs assessment, which needs to be done for each individual victim with the police officer in charge.

“This assessment then needs to be fed into the justice system. “If they need special measures, then that could also be made available through this assessment.

“If they have expectations for how often they need to be updated on the case they are involved with, that can also be fed into the system.

“We have already run some focus groups with victims of violent crime and we are driving forward suggested improvements identified through those consultation groups.

“The revised code also caters for businesses who are victims of crime and provides an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to make an impact statement so that their voice is fully heard, as is the case with personal victims.”

Angus Macpherson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “Being a victim of crime can be distressing, and the journey through the criminal justice system, for both victims and witnesses, can be challenging.

“I am delighted that the Victims’ Code comes into force because it sets out victims’ entitlements and makes clear that criminal justice agencies are legally required to meet their obligations.

“I have signed Victim Support’s five pledges designed to ensure that victims come first and I shall be commissioning a range of victims’ services.”

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Victims deserve the best possible support to cope and recover from the effects of crime.

“I want to create a fairer criminal justice system where victims have a louder voice and those who break the law are more likely to go to prison for longer.”

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