Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (Victims’ Code of Practice) Order 2020

This order brings the revised Code of Practice for Victims of Crime into operation on 1 April 2021. It sets out the services to be provided to victims of crime by relevant service providers and is being updated to take account of the responses to the Government consultation on Improving the Victims’ Code.

In light of responses to the consultation, a revised Victims’ Code was drafted, which focused on a number of key areas: raising awareness and accessibility; providing clearer information on victims’ rights to access practical and emotional support; strengthening communication and taking account of the victim’s preferences; and increasing the voice of the victim through providing more flexibility in the Victim Personal Statement process. It also changed the structure so that the Victims’ Code has a clearly defined set of 12 rights, that are easy for victims to understand.

The key changes in the revised Victims’ Code are:

a) Accessibility: The revised Code is simplified to one chapter from the existing five chapters and victims are the primary audience. The complex structure of the existing Code is changed so that the revised version clearly sets out 12 overarching rights that victims are entitled to receive and also make it clear at what point in the justice process victims should receive them.

To help ensure that practitioners are clear on the rights, and at what stage these rights need to be provided, we will also be publishing a separate document containing detailed information and guidance for them – at the time of implementation (1 April 2021).

b) Improved engagement: This option moves from a process where victims are simply informed when and how they will be contacted about their case to one where the frequency and method of communication is more victim led, whilst acknowledging that there may be times when a service provider is unable provide regular updates. Where this is the case the revised Code puts a duty on the service provider to explain why.

c) Victim Personal Statement (VPS): The current Code requires that victims are offered the opportunity to make a VPS at the same point that the witness statement is taken. Under the revised Code, service providers have more flexibility on the timing of the offer, for example by offering the opportunity to make a VPS when a suspect is charged. However, victims must still be provided with the option of providing a VPS when they report a crime. Furthermore, victims are now be able to request a copy of their VPS.

d) Support for victims of mentally disordered offenders: Victim Liaison Officers are already assigned to victims of restricted patients and this option would extend their role to include support for victims of unrestricted patients. This brings greater parity in rights for these victims, ensuring consistency in the level of information and the way it is provided.

e) Access to Support – Awareness of Support: The revised Code includes clearer information about the ability to access support:

• without the need to report incidents to the police;
• at any time during the investigation and prosecution;
• if the case is stopped; or
• at the end of the case.

f) Specialist Support: Whilst retaining the existing eligibility categories for access to specialist support, this makes it clearer that service providers have the discretion to offer enhanced support to victims who fall outside the scope of the existing categories”.

Domestic Abuse update – Additional funding for victims of rape and domestic abuse

Ministers have confirmed that there will be additional funding to support victims of rape and domestic abuse. Almost £11 million will be awarded to a range of services offering practical and emotional help. This will allow organisations to recruit more staff, adapt to remote counselling methods during the pandemic and keep helplines open for longer.

Online Family Law Week states:
“In addition, Ministers have announced a further £7 million will go towards a range of innovative programmes aimed at perpetrators, designed to prevent domestic abuse from happening in the first place.

The package of support includes:

• £10.1 million to rape and domestic abuse support centres and Police and Crime Commissioners to fund services across England and Wales.

• £7.17 million for a range of innovative programmes aimed at perpetrators to last beyond the pandemic to help offenders change their behaviours and prevent such crimes happening in the first place. Independent research has shown these programmes cut risk of physical abuse, with the Drive Partnership, which is one of the programmes being funded, demonstrating an 82 per cent reduction in risk.

• Twenty-nine funding awards totalling £7.17 million awarded to Police and Crime Commissioners working with perpetrators of domestic abuse, including West Mercia, Dorset and Sussex.

• £680,000 going directly towards up to 34 domestic abuse organisations that have shown a need for extra funds. The organisations provide support services for victims, including front line services and virtual services. Funds might be needed, for example, to provide new temporary staff to deal with additional calls to helplines or to provide additional counselling for victims.

• A renewal of the #YouAreNotAlone campaign for the period of new restrictions which signposts people towards support services and online resources, and reminds people that the new national restrictions do not apply if you are in danger at home.

In addition, the Government says that victims of all crimes will benefit from a clearer set of rights regarding the support they should receive from the police, courts and other criminal justice agencies.

The new Victims’ Code (see below) sets out 12 key overarching rights, which are intended to be clear, concise and easy to understand. It will come into force on 1 April 2021 and includes a new right for eligible victims to be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme as well as greater rights for victims of mentally disordered offenders.

The Talking Parents App

Sometimes communication are difficult between separated parents. So it’s good news that there is a Talking Parents App which can be downloaded onto each parents mobile phone. Once the parents sign up to the App by inputting the children’s names and dates of birth, they will be automatically linked.

This App provides a way to communicate without the parents having to provide each other with their respective email addresses etc. Instant notifications are received when a parent sends a message.

Civil communications

The messages can not be deleted, so this App encourages parents to keep their communications civil and child focused because, if necessary, the full message history can be easily downloaded, and produced in court. Talking Parents is a great way to monitor communications between parents.

The Event Calendar

The Event Calendar is a shared calendar and is designed to allow a parent to coordinate events with the other parent. When you create an event, only you can edit it. You can also order a Calendar Record to get a full view of all your events, past, present, and future.

It’s free to use

There is no registration, monthly, or yearly fee to use Talking Parents online (Standard Plan). The only necessary expense is when a parent needs to obtain a copy of their message records.

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