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Government announces more support for victims

More funding for support services and plans to increase the scope of the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme

26 September 2019
Government announces more support for victims

As part of the Victims’ Strategy, the government has announced more funding for support services and plans to increase the scope of the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme (ULSS).

Justice Minister Wendy Morton MP announced victims of rape and sexual assault will be helped by a further £5 million for specialist support services, increasing the money available for services across the country from £8 million to £12 million per year.

£1 million will be invested into recruiting more Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs), who provide advice and support for victims, acting as the link between police, support services and criminal justice agencies. New national minimum standards for ISVAs will also be developed to ensure victims across the country receive consistent, high-quality support. This additional funding will form part of a Rape Victims’ Pledge, which will provide additional support and information for victims, in order to make their engagement with the criminal justice system simpler and less distressing.

The government also announced that the ULSS will be extended to 14 new offences. The scheme gives anyone the power to ask the Attorney General to consider referring a sentence to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration. The scheme already covers crimes including murder, robbery and terror offences; however the government has pledged to extend the scheme to bring in offences including controlling and coercive behaviour and further sexual abuse offences such as the taking, distributing and publishing of indecent images and abusing a position of trust with a child.

The government is also accelerating plans to enshrine the support victims are entitled to receive in legislation, with a new Victims’ Law to be consulted on early in the New Year. A revised Victims’ Code, which will clearly set out the minimum level of service victims can expect from criminal justice agencies, will also be published in early 2020. You can read the MA response to the consultation on the Victims’ Code here.

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