Homicide Bereavement Funding Welcomed
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill
After weeks of campaigning with other PCCs, I welcome news that the government has reversed its decision to cut support to families of people murdered before 2010.
This issue has received widespread support from the public and the Government was right to reconsider this decision. It is incomprehensible to think that funding could have been taken away from these bereaved families. As I mentioned in my blog last month, I wrote to the Policing Minister, Rt Hon Damian Green on March 19th, asking him to rethink the withdrawal of funding. A copy of that letter can be seen here. It is essential that those bereaved through homicide should be supported to help them come to terms with their loss and to move on with their lives. I thank the charities Support After Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM) and Mothers Against Murder And Aggression (MAMAA) for their support in helping us to reverse this decision
I would also like to thank the 2100 people who have signed my petition, asking for a change in the law to stop abusers retaining images of their victims. I am striving for 10,000 signatures to secure a Government response, followed by a desire to achieve 100,000 in the next few months. Dorset Police have made strides in this area, by confirming that they will remove images of victims from a sex offender’s laptop, ensuring that victims needs come first. The Force believes that to return images of the victims to the offender would be incompatible with the victims’ right to respect for their private lives under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I applaud their decision. The Chief Constable and I share the view that victims must come first.
That leads me to today’s report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate which highlights significant issues in the CPS unit in Dorset. As a gatekeeper of victim care, I am ‘seriously concerned’ by this report which has identified significantly more ‘unsuccessful outcomes’ in magistrates courts in the Dorset area than the national average. I will be exploring those issues with CPS Wessex Chief Crown Prosecutor Kate Brown next week.
Since taking office, I have seen poorly performing court statistics, especially in Weymouth. The difficult question to answer is why? The Criminal Justice System is a complicated web of agencies. Locating the origin of the problem is like knitting fog. We can only hold an agency to account, be it police, courts CPS or whoever, if the blockage is properly identified, and the failing agency correctly highlighted. This led to my blog earlier this month, where I called on the Home Secretary to change the system and make the courts and the CPS more accountable to the public and to me, in my role as a Police and Crime Commissioner. This would allow us to take a closer look at the way in which the Criminal Justice System connects and better understand how failings occur. We cannot have offenders or victims slipping through the net. I will be working closely with the Criminal Justice Board to focus on these issues as a matter of urgency and to help put right what is obviously going wrong.
What we do know is that each poor performance statistic equals a failed victim. That is unacceptable.
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