As expected, pledges to support victims of crime and keeping police officers on the beat dominate the Labour party’s crime and justice policy for the general election, published today.

However, apart from a pledge ‘to ensure victims of domestic violence get the legal support they need to break free of violent relationships’ the document, entitled A Better Plan to Secure Safer Communities, has little to say on legal aid and access to justice.

Promising to ‘restore confidence in criminal justice by putting victims first’ the manifesto says a Labour government would take forward the recommendations of the Victims Taskforce report by Keir Starmer QC, Baroness Lawrence and Peter Neyroud.

These include the right to review cases when charges are not brought; a right to information so victims can be kept up to date with details of their case, and the right to ‘decency’ in the courtroom. 

Headline pledges include:

  • Abolishing police and crime commissioners; 
  • New laws to tackle child sexual abuse and violence against women;
  • Replacing police cautions for low-level crime with ‘payback orders’; 
  • Ensure companies providing probation services are subjected to ‘appropriate levels of transparency and scrutiny’;
  • Reforming prisons to ensure prisoners spend more time working and learning and raising professional standards amongst prison officers.

Although the manifesto says 'decisions on the supervision of dangerous offenders should be determined by public safety rather than profit', there is no promise to end the contracting out of probation services to private firms. 

Unveiling the manifesto, Sadiq Khan (pictured), shadow justice secretary, said: ‘Public safety is being put at risk by a prisons and probation system that is in chaos because of this government’s policies.’

In civil justice, Labour has already pledged to abolish employment tribunal fees.