My Practice

One of our policy papers at Victim Support is called Criminal
Neglect: No Justice Beyond Criminal Justice. It shows how the wider
needs of victims of crime, such as housing and social care, are
often ignored.

It also underpins our practice of trawling through legislation
before parliament and latest government policy to find
opportunities for measures and amendments that will meet those
needs of victims of crime that are not the responsibility of the
criminal justice system.

These opportunities aren’t difficult to find. Criminal justice
policy is finally recognising the rights of victims of crime that
are the responsibility of the criminal justice system to uphold and
protect. The Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 gives
effect to the Victims’ Code of Practice, which sets out clear
obligations owed by the criminal justice system to inform and
support victims of crime. Compare this approach with the recent
adult social care green paper that does not even recognise the
possibility that someone might have social care needs as a result
of being a victim of crime. The effect of this omission is that the
same person is being given different messages about the importance
of their needs being met.

A recent exception to this gap in support for victims of crime
was the response to the attacks in London on 7 July. Several
agencies including social services, police, Victim Support and the
Red Cross worked together at the Family Assistance Centre to
support people who were affected by the attacks. This approach
demonstrated how it is possible to respond to victims of crime in a
way that recognises the needs of the whole person.

One consequence of not considering the social care needs of
victims of crime is that the effects of crime on a person’s
well-being and ability to be a part of society may be misdiagnosed
and remain unsupported with serious consequences.

This year the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published its
Social Exclusion Interim Report. It showed that older burglary
victims are more than twice as likely to die within two years of a
burglary as older neighbours who are not burgled. This research
implies that an older person’s health is affected by being a victim
of crime, not necessarily as a result of their age. While a main
aim of the green paper is to tackle social exclusion faced by
people who use social services, it must also recognise that the
effects of crime aren’t just the responsibility of the criminal
justice system: just because the government is divided into
different departments, it doesn’t mean that people are.

Joanna Perry is policy manager, Victim

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