My practice

I have just started my new job as a policy manager for Victim
Support with responsibility for criminal justice. In many ways this
is a far cry from my work at the learning difficulties charity
Values into Action. Previously, my work was focused on people with
learning difficulties’ experience of hate crime.

Now I have to get my head around and respond to developments across
the criminal justice system that affect all people who have been
victimised by all kinds of crime.

A main part of my work until now has been to point out how
mainstream legislation and government policy, particularly in the
arena of criminal justice, leaves people with learning difficulties
out of the loop, further exacerbating experiences of isolation and

I will now need to ensure that I widen this focus to encompass the
diversity of people that Victim Support works with and represents.

And my first impression is that there are important similarities
between how people with learning difficulties and victims of crime
may be treated by society. For example, people with learning
difficulties constantly experience society’s inability or sometimes
downright refusal to respond to an impairment in a way that is not

Similarly, many victims experience secondary victimisation as a
result of poor planning, communication or support from the criminal
justice system. Lack of understanding from housing, health and
social care agencies about the effects of crime on victims’
everyday lives also contributes to experiences of secondary
victimisation. In both cases, my job is to locate and argue for the
support that might be needed for people to have full access to
their rights whatever their position.

Part of being able to do this campaigning work involves learning
about and implementing the necessary and complex consultation
process that takes place in a large organisation such as Victim

Another task I have is to write responses to consultations by the
government about new criminal justice law and policy. Of course the
authority for these responses can only come from the experiences
and views of people who have been victims of crime, volunteers and
staff who support them and colleagues at Victim Support’s national
office who support members and liaise with external agencies. My
department can then communicate the organisation’s views across
England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the government about whether
or not one of its policies will properly support people through
their experience of crime and uphold their rights to choice and

If such a policy doesn’t achieve these goals, our job is to explain
why and how it could do this better.

Joanna Perry is policy manager, Victim Support

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