In this response to the Justice Select Committee, we recommend that the four overarching principles of the Victims’ Code set out in the Bill be expanded to reflect all 12 entitlements in the current Code. Furthermore, agencies should have a statutory duty to comply with the Code’s entitlements, and the Victims’ Commissioner’s powers should be strengthened to provide national oversight of the operation of the Code.
We emphasise that victims should have a statutory entitlement to be informed about restorative justice (RJ) and how to access RJ, and a statutory right to be automatically referred to an RJ service. We urge the government to reintroduce a national RJ action plan, which sets out how access, awareness and capacity will be improved within the criminal justice system. The government should publish its annual progress against this action plan, and a new plan should be developed and laid before Parliament at least every five years.