Criminal JusticeSpeeches

Emma Lewell-Buck – 2023 Parliamentary Question on Support for Victims

The parliamentary question asked by Emma Lewell-Buck, the Labour MP for South Shields, in the House of Commons on 10 January 2023.

Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)

What steps he is taking to support victims in the criminal justice system.

Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South) (Lab)

What steps he is taking to support victims in the criminal justice system.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Edward Argar)

In May, we published our landmark draft Victims Bill and a wider package of measures to improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system. The Bill will enshrine the overarching principles of the victims code in primary legislation, increase oversight of criminal justice agencies’ treatment of victims and enable improvements in the quality and consistency of victim support services. The Bill will be introduced as swiftly as parliamentary time allows. Alongside those measures, we are more than quadrupling the funding for victim and witness support services by 2024-25.

Mrs Lewell-Buck

The reality is that victims are not being supported. My constituent, Mr Singh, is subject to identity theft. He and his family have been held by Border Force, his immigration status is in jeopardy, his family are being placed in danger and his health records are in utter chaos. Various Ministers, Secretaries of State and one of our recent Prime Ministers have all promised action, yet not one of them has bothered to honour their word. Will anyone in this Government help Mr Singh?

Edward Argar

The hon. Lady and I have worked together on previous cases. While I suspect that some elements of what she is referring to come under other Departments, hence her involving the Prime Minister and others, I am happy to meet with her to see if there is something I can do to assist.

Stephen Morgan

Only 1.5% of recorded rapes result in a charge, compared with 5.4% of all other crimes. Does the Minister accept responsibility for this, and for so badly letting down victims?

Edward Argar

We all have a shared desire to improve victims’ experiences, particularly in cases of rape and serious sexual offences. The rape review action plan set out the steps we are taking, and we are seeing continued increases and improvement in respect of total police referrals, receipts for a charge, CPS charges and Crown court receipts. There is more still to do. We are ambitious to go further, but we are making good progress and we will continue to focus on this.

Jonathan Gullis (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Con)

I thank the Lord Chancellor for meeting with Claire, the mother of Sharlotte-Sky, before the Christmas recess to hear about the pain and anguish she has suffered through the criminal justice system in order to get justice for her daughter, who was tragically killed in Norton Green in 2021. As the Lord Chancellor heard, the problem with this case is around the taking and testing of blood when it comes to death by dangerous driving. Can we have a review to ensure that blood can be tested regardless of consent to speed up answers for victims and help police to find answers to those problems quicker?

Edward Argar

I apologise to my hon. Friend for not being able to attend that meeting as I was caught in another meeting. My right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor has related that meeting to me, however, and I know that he and we reflect carefully on the points made in it.