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Open Letter to the Lord Chancellor

OPEN LETTER: REVISING THE CODE OF PRACTICE FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME

TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR, MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

I am writing in response to your Call for consulting on revising the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (VCOP). Attached is a response that is formally submitted by Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All), which I founded and currently direct. The consultation response has a dual purpose. It aims to inform your next steps in revising the code, while increasing its awareness amongst victims and our constituents. These are victims of crime, users of the justice system, restorative justice beneficiaries and practitioners, educators and organisations working in the justice and human rights field.

We aim to support you in your new steps and hence our keen response in collecting user-led evidence and some key recommendations that we present through this consultation document. Our response brings forth a number of issues that we consider strengths and weaknesses of your approach. The response has been prepared by Mr. Ben Lyon, RJ4All Board member and one of the longest serving restorative justice UK practitioner and Ms. Gabrielle Browne, a victim of violent crime, RJ4All Board member and a campaigner of victims’ rights. RJ4All has worked with them to collect evidence from our work with victims and users of the criminal justice system. We used this evidence to create a narrative around issues impacting on victims.

In this open letter, I want to emphasise the need not only to strengthen the law in protecting victims and bringing this law in line with the Victims’ Directive, but also the importance of working with communities and victims directly. We also believe that the law alone cannot help you deliver your intentions for serving victims better. Speaking with victims, you will also understand that the line between who is a victim and who is an offender are blurred. In the vicious circle of violence, linear definitions must be viewed carefully especially when aiming to serve those who have been harmed (Gavrielides, 2015).

I will conclude with one warning. Over the last few decades, we have seen many well-intended victim strategies, revisions of codes and funding schemes for victims’ organisations. As you move forward with your revision, I want to remind you of the power that continues to be manifested onto the vulnerable. The very concept of victims’ rights was introduced within the human rights framework in the hope that it will bring some balance against the manifestation of this power. Without acknowledging this power, any attempt by your government to implement the victims’ strategy and revisions for improving the code will fail. It is the power structures within our society and our criminal justice system that I want to bring to the forth of this consultation.

We would be happy to share any response that you might have to what we have proposed.

Professor Theo Gavrielides

RJ4All Founder & Director

September, 2019

Download RJ4All Consultation response 

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