"Government proposals will put young victims and witnesses at risk" - NSPCC and Victim Support
Published: 11 May 2012
- 14 May 2012
National charities the NSPCC and Victim Support have joined forces to oppose changes proposed in the Government’s consultation document Getting it right for victims and witnesses, which they say are damaging.
The two charities are extremely concerned about the impact the proposals will have on children and young people, who are victims and witnesses. The charities’ specific concerns include:
- Young witnesses and their needs are simply not addressed by the Government’s consultation that stands to put already vulnerable young people at further risk
- Local commissioning of specialist services for children and young people will be too costly and will not provide sustainable quality
The charities also believe that:
- Services should be commissioned nationally and delivered by appropriately trained local teams
- There should be a separate victims and witnesses ‘code of practice’ for children and young people, in the criminal justice system
- Children and young people should be consulted about their needs
Research has shown that children and young people already have difficulties in the criminal justice system. Victim Support and the NSPCC believe that these problems are likely to get significantly worse unless the Government’s plans for victim and witness services specifically address how young people will be supported.
NSPCC Chief Executive Andrew Flanagan said: “The NSPCC has helped thousands of children prepare for the daunting experience of giving evidence in court – often helping to convict people who have committed appalling crimes against them.
“If government proposals to locally commission victims and witness services go ahead there is a danger that children in some areas will not be able to get the support they need.”
Victim Support’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “Last year Victim Support helped over 12,000 children through the intimidating experience of giving evidence – but there is still so much more to do.
“The locally delivered service we are developing draws on both the NSPCC’s and Victim Support’s national strength and could be under serious threat. We are therefore calling on government to rethink these proposals.
“Anyone who is worried about young victims and witnesses not getting the help need they can sign our e-petition against the changes now.”
The specific concerns for young witnesses and victims follows on from broader issues raised about the consultation document, by Victim Support, earlier this month.