Victims’ Code set to change

26 November 2020

On 18 November 2020, the government confirmed that it is proceeding with planned changes to the  Victims' Code, following a consultation that began on 5 March 2020. The changes mean that when the revised Code comes into force, it will be based on a clearly defined set of rights that set out a minimum level of service that can be expected from criminal justice agencies. It is hoped that the changes will mean victims have a greater awareness of their rights, receive the information and support when then need it and have a greater level of satisfaction with the treatment they receive in the criminal justice system.

The government confirmed that the term ‘rights’, as opposed to ‘entitlements’, will remain in the revised Code. The purpose of this is to send a clear message to both victims and criminal justice practitioners that victims should receive the services and information set out in the Code. The government also indicated that the rights will form a new Victim’s Law, which will be consulted on following the publication of the revised Code.

In its response, the government also acknowledged that some of the respondents to the consultation did not want to be referred to as ‘victims’. Whilst the government confirmed that the term victim will remain in the revised Code, the terms ‘complainant’ and ‘survivor’ will be added to the definition of who is a victim to provide clarity.

There were some respondents to the consultation who felt that the Code should include additional responsibilities relating to the quality of police investigations. The government set out in its response that it was not appropriate to include any additional rights around investigation quality. It said that decisions taken in investigations must be independent and cannot be influenced by any rights. It noted that there is an existing complaints process outside of the Code for those with concerns about the quality of the investigation of their case.

Additionally, the revised Code places an emphasis on Restorative Justice, with more detailed guidance on the role that it can play and, where possible, help to repair the harm caused by the crime. The right to receive information about Restorative Justice remains an important part of the revised Code.

The revised Code has been laid before Parliament and will come into force on 1 April 2021.

You can access the government’s full response to the consultation here.

Further information 

If you have any questions or concerns about the content covered in this blog, please contact Shannett Thompson or any member of the Regulatory team.


About the authors 

Shannett is a Partner in the Regulatory Team providing regulatory advice predominantly in the health and social care sector. She is also a member of the private prosecutions team providing advice to individuals, business and charities in respect of prosecutions were traditional agencies are unwilling or unable to act.

Imogen is a trainee solicitor in Kingsley Napley’s Regulatory team, where she assists with investigating and preparing fitness to practice cases relating to professional misconduct, ill-health and lack of competence.


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