WHEN she became Home Secretary, Priti Patel said she wanted criminals to “feel terror”.
She’s right of course — this Government wants criminals to be met by more police on the street and face tougher sentences once they’re caught.
But what about the victims of crime? What should they feel?
Well, I want them to feel protected, to feel cared for, to feel safe.
I want them to be confident that their voices will be heard by the system, to know that the punishment their attacker receives will fit the crime.
I want them to be able to put their faith in the justice system, and not be abandoned by the state when they need it most. Is that the case right now? I fear the answer is “no”.
If you get arrested the state will, quite rightly, offer you a lawyer tasked not only with presenting your defence but also sticking up for your interests during the lengthy and tortuous process that can follow.
And should you get convicted of even the most heinous of crimes, the state will — again, quite rightly — spend a great deal of time and money attempting to rehabilitate you and turn you into a productive member of society, even if you have no desire or intention to change.
LIVES ON HOLD
Yet if, through absolutely no fault of your own, you become a victim of crime, you are all too often left pretty much to your own devices.
The criminal justice system is built entirely around dealing with the perpetrator.
Victims are relegated to the role of passive passengers rather than individuals with a sizeable stake in the process.
So if you speak to the victim of a serious crime you’ll often hear about victims waiting months for a case to come to trial — putting their lives on hold, reliving their trauma in the witness box, doing everything that’s asked of them — only for the case to be postponed at the last moment.
You’ll hear about people not being told what punishment has been received by the man or woman who caused such devastation in their life, or that the individual responsible is about to be released only halfway through their sentence.
And you’ll hear that when you’ve been a victim of a serious, sexual or violent crime, the trauma never really goes away — but the support you get from the state most certainly does.
It is frankly outrageous that we are so much better at providing long-term support to criminals than to their victims
Because, once the verdict is delivered, that is all too often ticked off as “done” as far as the authorities are concerned. Thanks for your time, now you’re on your own.
I believe it’s entirely right that we put a huge effort into rehabilitating offenders.
But it is frankly outrageous that we are so much better at providing long-term support to criminals than to their victims.
The Sun has always been on the side of those who suffer at the hands of criminals — just look at its work with child protection advocates Sara Payne and Shy Keenan, and the powerful Give Me Shelter campaign to support survivors of domestic violence.
But if you or a loved one has fallen victim to a serious crime, you shouldn’t have to only rely on a newspaper to stand up and speak for you.
That’s why this week we’re setting out new measures to support victims, including helping more people challenge unduly lenient sentences, speeding up plans to enshrine in law the rights that victims of crime deserve, and giving survivors of domestic abuse a voice and a champion with the appointment of our first ever Domestic Abuse Commissioner.
We’re also putting an extra £5million into support for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
Horrendously, one in five women experience some type of sexual assault in their lifetime — so I want every victim to access the specialist emotional and practical support they need for as long as they need it, regardless of whether they report the crime.
This extra cash — a 50 per cent increase on current spending — will help us make sure that happens.
It includes £1million to boost the number and quality of Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs), who provide a crucial link between victims and the police, support services and the criminal justice system.
It takes almost two years for a typical sexual offence case to go from crime to conviction, and ISVAs can make all the difference in helping survivors to stay engaged as the months drag by.
So as well as making sure victims receive the help they need, the extra money should also lead to more rapists getting the justice they deserve rather than walking free if their victim drops the case because they just can’t take any more.
MOST READ IN OPINION
If you’re a victim of a serious, violent or sexual crime, you have already suffered more than many of us would care to imagine.
Rather than extending your ordeal, the state should do everything in its power to support you, so that you can begin to overcome the trauma you have experienced.
The changes we are announcing this week will make sure that’s what happens — and give victims not just hope but the certainty that justice will be done.
Priti Patel was right to say she wanted criminals to ‘feel terror’[/caption]
The Sun has always been on the side of victims – as shown by work with child protection advocates Sara Payne and Shy Keenan[/caption]
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