The Victims and Prisoners Bill began the next stage of passage through Parliament on 19th June, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed this week.
The MoJ also said rape victims will also be given the opportunity to meet the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) staff involved in their case ahead of a trial in the latest move to guide them through the criminal justice system.
This will give victims the chance to discuss what they can expect in court, better understand the process and be talked through the support measures available to them such as appearing via video link. It will also provide victims the opportunity to have their voice heard and discuss any concerns ahead of trial.
This obligation will be cemented into an updated Victims’ Code, the principles of which will be put on a statutory footing through the Victims and Prisoners Bill.
This measure, alongside the roll out of pre-recorded evidence and more Independent Sexual Violence Advisers, will help victims feel supported within the justice system and reduce the number of cases that never reach trial.
Max Hill KC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said:
“Victims deserve, and rightly expect, to be supported, informed and treated fairly. They are central to our cases and our ability to bring successful prosecutions.
This new offer for a meeting between adult victims of rape and other serious sexual offences and a member of the prosecution team complements the service we are developing for all victims through our Victim Transformation Programme.
We hope it will help give victims confidence in attending court and highlight the support available to them when giving evidence.”
The announcement will form part of a full consultation the Victims’ Code which will take place after the Victims and Prisoners Bill receives Royal Assent taking on board views raised during its passage through Parliament.
Justice Minister, Edward Argar, said:
“We want to ensure that rape victims are supported throughout the criminal justice system and know what they can expect when their case goes to court, so this announcement is an important step forward.
Alongside the Victims and Prisoners Bill our broader reforms will help ensure victims get the support they need and the confidence they need to stay the course throughout the criminal justice process and help bring their attacker to justice.”
The Victims and Prisoners Bill builds on the wider government work to improve support to them.
The government will also more than quadruple funding for victim support services by 2025, compared to 2010 and boost the number of Independent Sexual and Domestic Violence Advisors by more than 40% over the next 3 years taking the total to over 1,000, according to the Ministry of Justice.