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Justice agencies letting down victims with complaints

28th Jan 2015

Victims who raise complaints over their treatment are being let down by justice agencies, reveals a new report.

Over 200 victims have been consulted on the complaints procedure, and it was found by the Victims’ Commissioner that 75% of respondents were unhappy with the response they received, while half of all respondents stated that the complaints process had been difficult to use.

Victims were not treated with empathy or patience, instead left feeling ignored, the review also found – many felt that the ‘personal touch’ needed by many victims was inadequate.

Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner, said that it was ‘shocking’ how many people had told her they’d felt ignored, confused and dismissed when trying to raise concerns. ‘Basic human decency’ is all that is required to explain a situation in a ‘sensitive and timely way’, Baroness Newlove continued.

Some victims told her that the process was ‘almost worse than the actual journey of being a victim’. In response, Baroness Newlove has set out new standards for dealing with victims’ concerns expected to be adopted by the government and agencies. They require agencies to provide information on how they will support victims who choose to make a complaint, including details on the process, how service providers will keep victims up to date on their complaint progress, and an option to state preferred method of communication.

Information will also be published showing how complaints have led to service improvements.

By March, the government is expected to have established a national Victims’ Information Service, which will give victims access to information and support. This comes as part of a set of reforms introduced by Chris Grayling, justice secretary, last September, who stated at the time that while services and support for victims had been ‘significantly improved’, more could be done.