- Baroness Newlove reappointed as Interim Victims Commissioner for one-year term
- Interim appointment ensures victims will have direct line to government
- Permanent recruitment campaign to be launched to reflect new responsibilities of the role following the Victims and Prisoners bill
The Interim Commissioner, who has been appointed for a term of 12 months, will play a vital role in scrutinising the Victims and Prisoners Bill as it progresses through Parliament, ensuring it serves its purpose to improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system.
Baroness Newlove brings a wealth of experience having previously served as Victims’ Commissioner between 2013 and 2019. During that time she laid the groundwork to enshrine victims’ rights in law through the Victims Strategy, improved their experiences in court and led important reviews on anti-social behaviour, the Victim’s Code, and reforms to the Parole system.
The Victims’ Commissioner promotes the interests of victims and witnesses, encourages good practice in their treatment, and regularly reviews the Code of Practice for Victims which sets out the services victims can expect to receive.
The decision to appoint a temporary Commissioner has been made to enable a new recruitment campaign to be launched which better reflects the new responsibilities the role will have once the Victims and Prisoners Bill is passed.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Alex Chalk said:
As a tireless advocate and campaigner for victims’ rights, there is no safer pair of hands than Baroness Newlove to hold this position as we recruit a permanent Victims’ Commissioner.
This role is vital in holding the Government and criminal justice agencies to account and being the voice for those affected by crime, and I very much look forward to working with her.
Interim Victims Commissioner, Baroness Newlove said:
I am honoured and it is a privilege to be re-appointed Victims’ Commissioner for the coming year.
I know first-hand the emotions and the pain victims experience on their journey through the criminal justice system. I am also aware of the many challenges they have faced in recent years. That’s why I am so passionate about championing their cause. I want to see their needs and rights at the forefront of our criminal justice system.
My priority this year is to ensure the Victims and Prisoners Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, truly delivers for all victims. I want to see this Bill transform the victim experience so that victims feel heard, respected, and supported throughout the criminal justice process. This has long been my aspiration and this Bill is an opportunity to make it a reality.
I look forward to continuing my work as the voice of victims, working with Ministers, criminal justice agencies and the organisations supporting victims to promote best practice in victims’ services.
Baroness Newlove has relentlessly campaigned for victims since the tragic death of her husband Garry in 2007 who was murdered outside of their family home in an attack fuelled by alcohol and drugs. Following her 2 terms as Victims’ Commissioner, she has continued to promote the voices of victims in the House of Lords.
The Victims and Prisoners Bill which will shortly return to the House of Commons enshrines the principles of the Victims’ Code in law, meaning that where appropriate, victims will have the right to:
- challenge decisions which directly impact them, for example getting the CPS or police to review why their case has been dropped in the most serious cases like rape and domestic abuse
- receive information to help them understand the criminal justice process, such as on claiming compensation, how their case is progressing and its outcome
- access vital support services such as Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors
- have the opportunity to make their views heard, for example being able to ask to read out their Victim Personal Statements in court
The Victims and Prisoners Bill also bolsters the role of the Victims’ Commissioner by requiring authorities within their remit to publicly respond to their recommendations and set out the rationale for accepting or rejecting them.
A recruitment campaign has been launched to re-appoint the role of Independent Advisor to the Rape Review who will work alongside the Victims Commissioner.
Notes to editors
Biography of the Victims’ Commissioner:
- Baroness Helen Newlove is a community reform campaigner and activist. She came to prominence after her husband Garry Newlove was murdered outside the family home by a gang of youths, all alcohol and drug-fuelled, in 2007. After his death she campaigned to tackle anti-social behaviour and the underage and binge drinking culture.
- Helen was given a peerage in the 2010 Dissolution Honours list and sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Newlove of Warrington in the County of Cheshire.
- She originally took up the post of Victims’ Commissioner on 4 March 2013, was reappointed for a second term in March 2016, and stepped down on 31 May 2019. She was succeeded by Dame Vera Baird.
- On 5 March 2021, Baroness Newlove took up the office of Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.