Victims are being let down by criminal justice agencies, the Victims’ Commissioner says in a report published today.

In the first of a series of independent reviews, Baroness Newlove (pictured) considered the experiences of more than 200 victims and assessed the performance of all agencies listed in the Victims’ Code. 

Nearly three-quarters of victims consulted during the review were unhappy with the service they received. More than half found the relevant agency’s complaints process difficult to use.

Baroness Newlove said it was shocking how many victims had told her they felt ignored, dismissed and confused when they tried to raise concerns about their treatment.

‘All it takes is basic human decency to explain to a victim, in a sensitive and timely way, why something has gone wrong and what they can do about it,’ she said.

In her report Baroness Newlove sets out standards she expects the government and criminal justice agencies to adopt when responding to concerns from victims.

These include:

  • Providing clear information on how they will support victims in raising a concern or making a complaint about the service they have received;
  • Details on how they will keep victims informed of the progress of their complaint at all stages;
  • Properly defined processes and recording practices which enable victims’ complaints to be handled proactively and appropriately;
  • Publishing information that illustrates how complaints from victims have led to improvements in services.

The government is expected to establish a nationwide Victims’ Information Service by March, allowing victims to access information and support, as part of a set of reforms announced by justice secretary Chris Grayling last September.

Grayling said the government had significantly improved services and support for victims, ‘but we are also the first to acknowledge that more can, and should, be done’.

The issue is likely to be a key justice battleground in the run-up to the general election, with Labour having pledged to create a victims’ law to restore confidence in the system and help victims who are required to give evidence in court.