In a report published in November 2020 (Constitutional Powers of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales), co-written by the Essex Law School’s Professor Maurice Sunkin together with Professor Pam Cox and Dr Ruth Lamont, these experts argued that the role of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales – set up in 2004 to promote the interests of the victims of crime – needs to be strengthened if it is to be effective.
This report has been influential in recent developments in this area. In particular, a new paper (titled Victims Law Policy Paper: The Victims’ Commissioner’s proposals for a Victims Law) by the current Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, appears to have been closely informed by eight of the recommendations made by Sunkin, Cox and Lamont.
These included Recommendation 2 to develop a set of core statutory rights, with a statutory duty on those agencies listed in the Victims’ Code to ensure all their policies and practice are compliant; and Recommendation 25 to establish a single cross-criminal justice system complaints body for all victim complaints in respect of non-compliance with the Victims’ Code, which is responsible for the oversight of the handling and response to the complaint.
It is great to see how the November 2020 report has produced some very concrete impact and helped develop thinking around what The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales wants to see from a Victims Law.