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Voice Northamptonshire: QM Award

Victims of crime and those impacted by road traffic incidents  can be confident that  excellent support is available to them  as Voice Northamptonshire is awarded a national quality mark.

The Victims Choice Quality Mark has been awarded to Voice Northamptonshire by Supporting Justice CIC in recognition of the “high standards of care and support offered ” and the way in which staff made people feel “valued and listened to”.

Voice Northants is a service delivered on behalf of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner of Northamptonshire and provides independent support and information to anybody in Northamptonshire that has been a victim of crime – regardless of whether they have chosen to make a report to the police or not – and anyone affected by a serious road traffic incident.

David Kenyon the lead assessor said: “Voice Northants  provides an excellent service and a high standard of victim care. There is a strong and supportive culture among management and staff and clients are at the heart of all the organisation delivers. We found a high level of collaboration and a willingness to deliver a comprehensive and inclusive support service to those who needed it. Partner organisations work well with Voice and hold the organisation in high regard.

“Our assessment shows a service dedicated to continuous improvement and a determination to support victims of crime to cope and recover.”

The Victims Choice Quality Mark is an independent assessment of the quality of the service provided to victims and witnesses. It is designed to provide confidence to those who may need to access the service in the future and to help commissioners determine if their resources are being targeted and spent effectively.

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Victims of Fraud

The Victims’ Commissioner has recently published the first stage of her research into victims of fraud – Fraud victims. It is a useful analysis of the potential profile of fraud victims and the impact the crime might have on them and is a welcome addition to the debate on the need for fraud victims to be recognised, heard and supported. The second stage of the research will look at the support offered to fraud victims and we await its publication.

Recently the BBC highlighted the potential costs of scamming – Costs of scamming, estimated by Which? to be in the region of £9bn a year. That is the equivalent of £2,509 a year for each victim, but the impact can be higher for someone hit by online fraud.

People targeted by fraudsters have spoken of suffering from anxiety and ill-health after being scammed. Which? says the cost to well-being is higher than the typical financial hit of £600.” And the banking trade body, UK Finance, has described the level of fraud as a national security threat.

The economic costs of scams and frauds is, no surprise, matched by the emotional, psychological and societal impact of these crimes and, for too long, victims have not been properly supported or even acknowledged.

It does seem that the banks are now starting to recognise some of their responsibilities in relation to fraud victims, though some are much better than others at making sure victims are reimbursed when they are subjected to what is a most pernicious and intrusive crime. But this is not before time;  is long overdue that fraud victims are being heard and their concerns and needs addressed. 

We are used to telling victims of assault, domestic abuse, sexual assault, robbery etc that the only person to blame for the crime is the perpetrator: just because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time; just because I didn’t do exactly as he or she wanted; just because I had a couple of drinks and chose to dress in the way I did does not mean that I am responsible for what happened to me, that I brought it on myself. It is well overdue that fraud victims should be told the same: no one is to blame but the fraudsters or scammers. So these two reports will certainly assist, we hope, in developing the much needed approach where fraud victims can have confidence to report the crime knowing that they will be heard, their concerns addressed and appropriate support offered. The government is in the process of introducing a new national fraud and cybercrime  reporting system to replace Action Fraud and this too is a welcome development.

It is also important that support organisations look at how they can improve their approach to fraud victims: better access, better communications (especially given that much fraud is online and victims may have diminished, if any, confidence of accessing services online). It is simply unaffordable, as well as unacceptable, that fraud victims and the impact of the crime on them, and on us, their fellow citizens, has for too long been under the radar. The demand for change is clear and we hope that these important reports help bring about a more robust, comprehensive and supportive approach to fraud victims, giving us all the confidence to know that if we too fall victim to this potentially devastating crime we will be helped through the experience.

For advice on how to avoid scams,  the website, Take Five, offers some useful information:

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Citizens Advice Witness Service Quality Mark Award

Citizens Advice Witness Service Quality Mark Award

We are delighted to be able to announce that Citizens Advice Witness 

Service has successfully gained a Supporting Justice Quality Mark Award.

The Witness Service was assessed against our five key standards and how they actually help deliver effective outcomes for witnesses (and victims): access; needs; value; support and safety. The assessment team visited criminal courts, magistrates and crown, across England and Wales and met with witnesses, key stakeholders, volunteers and staff following a review of a raft of pre assessment materials. The head of operations for the service said: “it was a really valuable opportunity for us to understand what we’re doing well and where we might be able to enhance our services further”.

It was an inspiring experience to meet so many who deliver a truly valuable and valued, indeed, vital service to those who go through the ordeal of going to court as a witness. Whether they be witnesses for the prosecution or the defence it was good  to hear how other criminal justice agencies, as well as support services beyond the criminal justice system, have come to see the Witness Service as crucial to the effective delivery of support and justice and much needed support.

We found that the service provides easy, effective and inclusive access for those who need support at court and those who are assessed as likely to benefit from pre court support, including children and young witnesses. The service has also made great efforts to engage with defence witnesses who are no less in need of support as they attend court. Needs assessments are good and more and more witnesses are having additional needs identified and then referred to other specialist support agencies.

The witnesses we spoke with expressed their gratitude for the support they had been given and that they felt engaged, well informed and, especially, valued and treated with empathy and respect throughout their engagement with the Witness Service. The all too often labyrinthine criminal justice process was well explained and this helped witnesses to give their best evidence.

Any service is only as good as the team which delivers it and we recognise that the Witness Service team demonstrates a strong culture of collaboration and mutual support. As we have highlighted before, it is so often culture and values that help determine the quality of service rather than a simple reliance on policy and procedures.

The Witness Service is the largest service we have so far assessed. However, the approach, the standards and the values that underpin our assessment process apply equally to large and small service delivery organisations. It is the delivery of effective outcomes that matter. The Quality Mark provides a benchmark for victim and witness services to aspire to: of delivering a service that can be considered excellent.

If you would like to learn more about our Quality Mark and how it might help your organisation please get in touch – we will be happy to hear from you.

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Victim Services Commissioning

A year later than scheduled due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we saw, in May, the (re) election of police and crime commissioners. About a third of those elected are new commissioners and, along with those re-elected, will bring with them a set of priorities and commitments that aim to make their communities safer, well protected and policed and offer vital and effective support to those affected by crime.

Sexual violence, domestic abuse, stalking, assault and robbery, burglary, anti social behaviour; all these can and do have devastating impacts on those subjected to them and these victims and survivors need to be confident that they can report crimes, knowing they will be heard and that, as well as finding a criminal justice system that pursues cases with vigour and sensitivity they will also have access to effective and outcomes focused support from agencies and organisations that are often funded by police and crime commissioners.

The key to delivering effective services to victims, and witnesses, is to make sure that the focus, throughout, is clearly on outcomes: not inputs, not outputs (measuring and counting numbers) but outcomes. The key question to ask is: has this service actually delivered what the victim really needed (or at least gone as far as possible in delivering their needs). And the outcomes desired need to be built into the relevant service right from the start, continuously monitored and, where and when appropriate, reviewed and assessed against agreed and established criteria.

We at Supporting Justice have, over many years, tried to shift the focus in victim services onto the need to deliver such outcomes. It is not enough to be able to demonstrate how much time, effort, money is spent on a service. It is not enough to be able to report on the number of interventions, the number and duration of support calls, personal meetings etc that a service has with a client. These things can be important, and certainly help determine the scale and volumes of support needed and help plan future resourcing. But they don’t give a robust insight into the effectiveness of a service; they don’t tell us if victims and witnesses are getting what they need.

The approach to the commissioning of services for victims of crime varies across England and Wales and this includes the actual timetabling of commissioning. Some PPCs (and, if appropriate, a directly elected mayor) commission on a three year basis, others longer. This year and next many PCCs will be looking to commission (or re-commission) their funded victim services. It would be a positive, and ultimately highly effective approach to make sure that, right from the start, the delivery of identifiable, measurable and person centred outcomes are at the core of what is being commissioned. The framework for commissioning, like all else, needs to have people, victims and survivors at its heart.

If the commissioning of services has the delivery of outcomes as its focus, if those outcomes can be identified, if the service can go on to be able to demonstrate the delivery and effectiveness of these outcomes than we will see a greater level of confidence among victims and survivors and among the public at large; we will see higher and better levels of cooperation and collaboration among service provides and with criminal justice agencies, all of whom will recognise just how effective their services can be and, indeed, are; and we will see a real difference in the lives of those to whom the services are delivered.

In our work with organisations during our Quality Mark assessments we have seen, first hand, the tangible and positive difference and effectiveness victim and outcomes focused services can have in the lives of those supported. If the approach can be built into the service from the very start, i.e. when it is being commissioned, we will go on to see such positive changes being replicated on a wider scale. This is not to say that so many services are not already delivering good support to victims and survivors; it means that from the start we can be sure that this is so, that we can monitor and measure against clear and agreed criteria and that we can identify the effectiveness of outcomes in the lives of service recipients by their ability to cope and recover after their all too often traumatic experiences.

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Rape review

The government’s end to end rape review published today (Rape review) acknowledges, right at the start, that there are too many cases where those reporting rape have not been given the professional, diligent, empathic support they deserve by those investigating and prosecuting the crime. It’s a positive step to read this and to see ministers acknowledge the problems and admit that they are ashamed at the steep decline in prosecutions and convictions for rape over the past five years. The professed aim is to right this wrong, understand why victims are being let down and deliver lasting improvements to the way rape is investigated and prosecuted, so that victims are supported and have confidence that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

The Victims Commissioner, and others, have welcomed the review but, and it’s a big but, have reservations, serious reservations, about whether the government’s proposals will actually achieve their aims and objectives. The government aims to make sure that victims have “access to quality support, appropriate to their needs” and “access to the right therapeutic and clinical support”. All well and good. But these are basic rights and needs that have been identified as crucial for far longer than it took the review to identify their absence. Like many services in the criminal justice system (and beyond) they have been undervalued and under-resourced for far too long. Can we be confident that this will change as a result of the review?

One of the most distressing aspects of the approach to rape investigation has been the fact that so many victims have felt that they are, somehow, on trial themselves, that their veracity is constantly being questioned by those they should be able to rely on in their entirely legitimate search for justice. Victims can have their mobile phones taken from them for extended periods of time , find their “digital footprint” analysed in minute detail and very much left with the impression that they are somehow on trial for the crime that has been inflicted on them. The review has the ambition to change this – but an “ambition” is seen by many as not quite cutting it. Is this ambition, laudable though it may be on one level, yet another example of the “government speak” with which we have all become far too familiar since the days of Sir Humphrey and Jim Hacker.

It is, perhaps, not surprising that that review has met with underwhelming approbation. To identify that the police and CPS will “establish a culture of effective joint working” comes as something of a shock. Why? Because many of us who worked on the “No Witness, No Justice” programme many years ago actually thought this was what we were aiming to deliver then. And so the wheels continue to turn even if they aren’t actually moving anything along.

The action plan that is contained in the review has much by way of aspiration. But, as the Victims’ Commissioner has pointed out in her response, (Commissioners’ response) there is a clear imperative to make sure that these aspirations are matched by resources: the significant cut to funding in the criminal justice arena over many years will not easily be rectified and, if it isn’t, can we really expect different results from those which we now recognise as a crisis in the system.

Sensitive, robust and comprehensive investigation of all crime, especially the most serious, matched with a criminal justice system that helps and supports people to navigate their way through complex and often bewildering processes, matched with effective, outcomes-based support services are the very basics that we, as a professed civilized society need. If this review is to deliver these, something which has been the mantra of ministers (and others) for many years (“victims at the heart of the criminal justice system”) then this review will need more than apologies and fine words if it is to become the reality we all need it to be.

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Dangerous ground?

Are students failed by inadequate response to rape culture

In recent weeks there have  been increasingly compelling voices warning us of some of the problems in the world of education. These are not the “usual” problems: under achievement, lack of resources, access to information technology and learning opportunities. The problems now being talked and written about concern more fundamental issues: the rights to feel safe, valued, free from harm in the environment, where these should not only be taken for granted but top of the list of any institution dedicated to learning and development.

However, we can see that this is not so: lawyers and campaigners have recently suggested that universities have ignored repeated warnings to tackle rape culture on campus; students who disclosed sexual assault or harassment face a postcode lottery on whether, and the type of support they may or may not get; and the Everyone’s Invited campaign has illustrated that the problems don’t just lie with universities and other institutes of higher education but that some schools too are a concern. And we should reflect that no one can learn in an environment that can be perceived as fostering and failing to address harassment and assault.

These issues are starting to be taken more seriously. The Office for Students has recently published a Statement of Expectation for higher education providers to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct. This is a welcome development and, as far as the statement goes, a step forward if applied properly. Maybe the statement itself is not the best or most appropriate place to articulate and elaborate on one particular aspect of the comprehensive needs of students, but it does look rather light on recognising and promoting the need for effective personal support to those who are brave enough to step forward and report their experiences.

Effective practical help and emotional support is a crucial part of the process of people seeking and getting justice. We know from experience in working with victims of crime and witnesses that people are more likely to report a crime, more likely to continue through the criminal justice process, if the legal aspects of the case are underpinned by the delivery of effective, timely and person-centred support measures.

Knowing that such support measures are in place will help generate the confidence young people need to come forward, articulate their experiences knowing that they will be heard and taken seriously and so be assisted to start the process of recovering from what can all too often be deeply damaging and long term negative effects on many aspects of their lives.

The  support needed can and should be provided by a range of organisations; educational establishments do not have to do this in isolation. And, to achieve this, each individual story will need to be heard, each individual will have to have their needs properly assessed, and each educational body will need to develop effective referral arrangements so that as wide a range of needs as possible can be met.

We at Supporting Justice have clearly identified the key standards that need to be applied by any organisation that seeks to take the issue of effective support seriously and deliver good outcomes to those with whom they engage. To deliver that support they  need to provide:

  • Easy Access
  • Effective needs assessment
  • Practical and emotional support
  • A culture that clearly demonstrates an individual is valued
  • An approach that helps make people feel safe

As, we hope, the focus of media and news interest begins to shift away from the all consuming issue of Covid 19 we need to think about how we re-focus on the many other threats that face us and need to be addressed if we are to build the inclusive, supportive and ultimately more creative and sustainable society we all want to see.

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Quality Mark Award: Victim Lincs

Victim Lincs Quality Mark Award

We are delighted to announce that Victim Lincs (Victim Lincs) has been awarded a Quality Mark demonstrating they deliver an excellent service for victims of crime in Lincolnshire.Congratulations to all those who deliver this vital service.

This award is the result of an assessment based on the five key standards in our Supporting Justice Quality Mark:

We base our assessment on outcomes delivered to victims (and witnesses) and not simply on policies, procedures or some of the other more usual bases on which audits and assessments are carried out (e.g. finance/ governance/ HR). It is very much victim focused.

The service delivered by Victim Lincs delivers an excellent service and a high standard of victim care. There is a culture of collaboration between colleagues and this has proved crucial in maintaining high quality services during the current pandemic. This was the first assessment we have conducted (entirely) remotely and the team at Victim Lincs were impressive in their cooperation and commitment to the process. Victims we spoke to all found the service helpful and were enthusiastic in their praise for the service and the team who deliver it.

The team at Victim Lincs kindly offered us some observations following the assessment:
Whilst the process took time to arrange, remotely, the team all felt at ease and we received very good feedback from those who took part in interviews from outside Victim Lincs.
The process wasn’t as daunting as it may have been as the assessors were so approachable and explained things along the way. It was a thorough process from beginning to end. It is wonderful to see that our service has been recognised outside of our own organisation.

The award of a Quality Mark can certainly help a service not only to deliver continuous improvement but also to build public confidence and, especially, confidence among victims and witnesses, who are often vulnerable or marginalised. It helps highlight that there is help available to them and that their needs will be identified and, as much as possible, met.

If you are interested in learning more about our Quality Mark please contact or take a look on our Audit and Assessment page.

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Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorate Report: Impact of the pandemic on the Criminal Justice System

The report by the criminal justice joint inspectorate published today does not make for easy reading. It demonstrates, starkly, the mounting problems for our criminal justice system exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic; many of these problems pre date the pandemic but the last year has certainly raised new challenges and highlighted some of these pre existing challenges to the delivery of a fair, transparent and supportive justice service across the whole of England and Wales.

“We have grave concerns that this impact will prove deleterious to victims, witnesses and defendants alike.” So say the inspectors in the foreword to their report. These are not words used lightly. The growing backlog of cases waiting to be dealt with is clearly one of the biggest challenges to be faced by the justice system in many years. It will, as the report suggests, require a high level of coordination between agencies if it is to be addressed as well as an increase of resources to a sector that has, over many years, seen the availability of those resources diminish.

The impact of this growing backlog is being felt in the lives of many. An interview this morning on the Today programme with a victim of domestic abuse summed this up. The victim who reported to the police in 2019 is now looking at a potential court date in 2022, three years after the initial complaint. She has been offered little by way of updates and found out, well after the event, that bail conditions for the alleged perpetrator had been changed. Unacceptable? Yes. Unusual? Sadly not.

Many people have been highlighting such deficiencies for years. The mantra that “victims are at the heart of the criminal justice system” has been trotted out regularly for at least twenty years but, alas, more honoured in the breach than the observance. We have a Code of Practice for victims that has many worthy aspirations but has so often been woefully applied and let victims down: it’s a useful tool on paper but not well applied in practice.

In April we will see a new Code of Practice introduced : simpler, clearer, more succinct and user friendly. But its introduction is not the panacea that we are sometimes led to believe it will be. It runs the risk of continuing to be, like the code it will replace, a toothless tiger because we can still not be sure that it will be consistently applied and that compliance will be adequately monitored and enforced. That’s the reality and to say so is not simply a way of beating those tasked with compliance over the head but yet another call for change and action.

If a criminal justice service is to deliver what it is needed then, as well as all the right policies, procedures, structures it needs to have the right culture, a culture that puts people first, a culture that recognises and addresses the needs of the most vulnerable (both victims and defendants). Only within such a culture can any policies and procedures hope to achieve their aims and ambitions.

And the culture needs to be looking forwards to see how it can embrace new and innovative approaches that are designed, and implemented, to help people through this maze of a service we have, an approach that sees criminal justice agencies increasingly look to developing joint approaches (particularly in the digital sphere) and a clear recognition that the better we engage with people, the more they feel informed, the more transparent we are then the more they will have confidence, the more the system will be seen to work well and the more we we deliver better outcomes.

In the coming few months we all have a part to play in informing the debate about how our criminal justice system can be brought back from the brink, how it can not only address the current problems it faces but how it can improve and evolve into a service that delivers what is needed. It needs to become a cause of celebration for us all, not least those who work within it who are often underrated and get little recognition for their efforts. The challenge is real, it is here and it is up to us all to rise to it.

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Beyond Covid 19

As we approach the Christmas holidays we can all be forgiven for reflecting how much has changed since this time last year. It’s not just the absence of festive parties with our work colleagues and friends; it’s not just the absence (in many parts of the country) of masses of people scrambling to get presents for families and loved ones; it’s not just the sight of near empty buses and trains…..

We have all been impacted in the last year by the scourge of Covid 19. We hear, on a daily basis, of the huge toll being paid in serious illnesses and loss of life. We are acutely aware of the impact on staff, residents and their families in care homes. The numbers of people out of work and so facing a bleak Christmas grows on a daily basis. Our lives are looking very different than they were this time last year.

The impact on those needing support following their experience of crime, and those who offer that support has been no less significant. Indeed, in many cases it has been even more profound as many victims are also vulnerable, marginalised, dispossessed in ways that go beyond the impact of the crime itself. Our online survey, to which I respectfully draw your attention gives us a taste of how this pandemic has affected victims and witnesses and those who look to meet their needs. Covid survey

But as well as the negative impacts we can also note an underlying resilience and ability of many people to adapt, to try to make the best of what has been for all of us a deeply challenging experience. And we seem to have some really good news with the arrival of at least one, and several more imminent, effective vaccines for the virus. So, perhaps, we can, with a collective sigh of relief and with positivity in our minds, start to look how we make the most of what we have learned during this pandemic and how we can begin to re-imagine services to victims and witnesses in the future.

Supporting Justice and Moorhouse recently held a webinar to consider the impact of Covid on these services and consider some of the key learning points to help develop services in the future; a digest of this webinar can be found here: webinar digest . A return to “business as usual” does not have to mean a return to the status ante quo and we have, perhaps, a real opportunity to learn, build, and improve the services we can offer having captured so much useful intelligence as a result of the last year or so.

If you would like to hear more on our thoughts or think we can help then please get in touch with us here at Supporting Justice or with our colleagues at Moorhouse. Contact details are below.

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Male victims of domestic abuse

Male victims of domestic abuse


Charities dealing with men who suffer domestic abuse have, according to recently highlighted statistics BBC news, seen requests for help jump by up to 60% during the Covid 19 lockdown period. These follow on the back of the sharp rise in the numbers of women seeking similar help and support during the last six months.


There is little doubt that the Covid 19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the lives of many: societal, economic, physical and mental health, and that the impact has been greatest on some of the most vulnerable in our communities, including victims. Many organisations that offer support have had to adapt by changing their approach to how they deliver this support: face to face meetings have been overwhelmingly abandoned in favour of more remote forms of support via telephone or the internet.


The changes have, undoubtedly, been positive in some respects but have negative impacts in others. Our own recent survey paints a nuanced picture SuJu survey; some people welcome the opportunity to be supported remotely whilst others feel the absence of a reassuring physical presence. 


The key thing to learn from all this is that support must, as far as possible, continue to be available to people when and how they most need it – and this requires flexibility, commitment and, crucially,  resources. The financial constraints that have hit all sectors of the economy have had a telling impact on the victim support sector over the course of this pandemic – and the sector was already suffering from the effects of ten years of austerity. As we approach, potentially, another period of limited contact with others it is crucial that the most vulnerable are not forgotten. As Frances Ryan reports in the Guardian (Frances Ryan) , as the fear of the spread of Covid across Britain grows, ministers have, so far, had very little to say about the millions of those most at risk. This will include many experiencing domestic abuse.


Domestic abuse has devastating effects on those subjected to it: it undermines feelings of safety, security (personal and financial), impacts on families and, of course, wider society. And whether it is a man, woman or those who may not identify as either being subjected to it can cause lasting and traumatic damage. We must do all we can to make sure that those who have responsibility for our wellbeing and safety take those responsibilities seriously. That means providing adequate resources for support services and, in relation to domestic abuse, provision of resources to deliver effective programmes of education and rehabilitation to make sure that those who perpetrate domestic abuse have the chance to be rehabilitated and that we are all more aware of domestic abuse can be prevented in the first place.


The provision of safe spaces and refuges are an integral part of dealing with the aftermath of domestic abuse as are wider support services. But just as important is the availability of wider educational and rehabilitation programmes to minimise the occurrences of abuse in the first place. That should be a clear message that we take from today’s new reports.

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HMCPSI Annual Report – Blog

Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate has just published its 2019-20 annual report. This report comes against a backdrop of diminished resource availability over a prolonged period and, of course, the beginning of the Covid 19 crisis. As the report highlights, where there is a “stretch” of resource there are serious implications for quality accompanied by limited evidence of “grip”.


The report covers a range of inspection topics: area performance, thematic inspections, joint inspections, corporate issues. There is one area worthy of particular mention, an area that doesn’t tend to generate a lot of interest or attention: the joint inspection undertaken with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services into crimes against older people. This was the first ever inspection looking specifically at crimes against older victims and safeguarding arrangements that support this type of offence.


The joint inspection report itself  was published this time last year so you may wonder “why write about it now?”. Well, since then we have all had to come to terms with a new reality, the reality of the Covid 19 crisis (yes, there’s no getting away from it I’m afraid).


The inspection highlighted that often the police service had a “superficial understanding” of the nature and extent of crimes against older people and that this often resulted in a poorer service to older victims. It also identified the lack of a cohesive and focused joint strategy between the police and CPS to deal with older victims of crime.


The inspection made some recommendations: a simple definition of what constitutes an older victim; clear guidance around special measures;effective monitoring arrangements of cases involving older people. The positive response to the report from the CPS and police  was encouraging.


But given that we are now living in a much changed world, one where social isolation (or distancing, call it what you will) has become the norm for many it is vital that we do not lose sight of the need to think about our responses to all those who need help and support following crime. Our recent survey of victim service providers (Survey) offers some useful insights into how victim services have had to adapt in the current crisis: more remote ways of engaging with victims, greater use of technology etc. The responses we had, as well as highlighting many challenges, also present many opportunities as we start to think about how we can learn and try to make services ever more responsive and engaging.


If we are to see services to victims (and witnesses), statutory as well as third sector, become more accessible, more effective, more inclusive we need to make sure that no one is left behind. We need to make sure that older people, their particular needs and the ways in which they could and should be engaged and supported are a key component of our considerations. 


Many older people are, of course, “tech savvy” and have access to good support networks – family, friends, local community groups. But we know that there are many who do not and who are increasingly vulnerable and, sadly, seen as “easy prey” by those intent on committing crime. It’s incumbent on all of us working in the criminal justice arena to make sure we keep the needs of the most vulnerable in our society at the very core of our thinking and planning for the future.


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Victim Support Europe- Covid 19 webinar

Victim Support Europe: Webinar on the impact of Covid 19 on victim services


It was a real pleasure to take part in a webinar hosted by VS Europe at the end of last week and to talk a little about our recent survey of victim service providers in England and Wales. Many of the concerns and views raised by our own respondents seem to be replicated across Europe: having to change significantly the way people engage with services; new working methods for staff and volunteers; greater and more creative use of technology and remote engagement with victims and colleagues in other agencies; additional concerns among victims about personal safety. These, and other issues were clearly identified in our online survey (Covid 19 Survey Summary) and it was good to hear that colleagues have been working hard, and creatively, to make sure vital services are maintained during the crisis.


There is a real sense among colleagues that we need to understand and learn more about the impact of this crisis and what it might mean for the future planning, resourcing and delivery of victim services. The assumption that we might simply go back to the status quo ante is one that all of us need to question: Just because things  worked, or appeared to work before, does not mean that they will again or, indeed, that even if they do they can’t be done better. As well as challenge we also have opportunity to learn and develop.


Victim Support Europe will be offering a summary of the session from last week and it will form an important part of how we learn more to help shape our plans in the future. We at Supporting Justice are also keen to help the sector learn the key lessons needed and, as well as identifying the challenges presented, also make the most of the opportunities generated. To that end we are looking for sponsorship to carry out more detailed and rigorous research into the impact of Covid 19 and how we can have confidence that our future service delivery for victims and witnesses continues to improve.


We have prepared a short paper  that outlines the approach we would like to take and will happily share this with you if you would like to know more or, potentially, be able to offer help to fund the research. If you are interested to learn more please get in touch with David Kenyon (


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Rape and CPS prosecutions

CPS approach to rape prosecutions ‘a disaster for justice for a crime which is already a terrible fit for our adversarial system’


This week, The Guardian published the latest in a series of articles tracking both an alleged change of approach by the CPS to its prosecution of rape cases and ongoing legal action by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) accusing the CPS of dropping cases to boost conviction rates.

While reported rapes have increased steadily over the past decade, reaching more than 58,000 in the year to March 2019, charges, prosecutions and convictions in cases brought by the CPS have fallen over the same period. 

A year ago, EVAW published government figures showing a 173% increase in rape allegations over the previous four years, which also saw a 44% reduction in the number of prosecutions reaching court.

EVAW has compiled a dossier of evidence for a government review of how rape is treated in the criminal justice system, which it has shared with The Guardian.  These include statements by rape victims whose cases never made it to court and information from a CPS whistleblower claiming staff were given training in how to meet conviction targets by removing hundreds of ‘weak cases’ from the system. 

Rape cases dropped by the CPS include a woman being held at knife point during the attack, a case where a film of the attack was found on the alleged attacker’s phone and one where the alleged attacker admitted the offence in text messages.

In early 2020 the EVAW legal action appeared to have stalled when the high court refused permission for the case to go to a full hearing. However, the court of appeal has offered new hope by agreeing to hear an appeal against the decision.

The Coalition alleges the CPS adopted a substantive policy in 2016 which included a target of 60% of rapes brought resulting in a conviction. EVAW claims a merit-based approach of pursuing all cases where there is credible evidence has reverted to a more risk-averse approach, permitting second-guessing of jury prejudices and producing reluctance to press ahead with more difficult cases. The organization describes this as ‘a disaster for justice for a crime which is already a terrible fit for our adversarial system’.

Earlier this year, The Guardian revealed that the CPS conducted  an internal review which exposed its failings in rape cases, but failed to share this information with the Inspectorate review into falling rape prosecution rates, which then produced less critical findings than the CPS’s own review.


In September 2019 the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, told rape victims not to be deterred from contacting police while, at the same time, said he would be “worried” about the fall in numbers of those being investigated and convicted if he were a victim of sexual violence. Encouraging words, but like all words, they have value only when translated into action and the shaping of attitudes needed to make things better. 

The criminal justice system has been severely affected by over ten years of cuts in resources. It is time for a fundamental review of how we approach issues relating to justice, how we improve access to a system that aims to keep all of us safe, and how those impacted and hurt by crime can be confident that their voices are being heard and their needs met. This applies not least to victims of rape, many of whom have been voiceless over the years and who now must be heard if we are to have a justice service worthy of the name.

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Quality Standards for victim support services in Serbia

Our collaboration with VSE

We are delighted to have been able to help Victim Support Europe and the Multi Donor Trust Fund for Justice Sector Support in Serbia with the production of their recent report.

Supporting Justice has collaborated on this piece of work and engaged with colleagues in Serbia over the past few years and we hope that this will play a significant part in improving the support offered and delivered to victims of crime in Serbia.

The report also recognises that Supporting Justice is leading the way and pioneering this approach in England and Wales. Our Quality Mark standards has been of real use in the development of ideas and production within the report, highlighting the need for standards, indicators and criteria to assess the effectiveness of victim care.
As the executive summary highlights;

“It is important to be able to verify the quality of aid to victims.”

Our Quality Mark

The development of our Victims Choice standards and the application of our independent and outcome focused approach is one that we think has intrinsic merit in delivering effective victim care.

The recipients of our Quality Mark think so too, recognising that it has helped them deliver even better service to victims.

It is heartening to read that our contribution to the improvement in victim care is recognised beyond these shores.
We look forward to continuing to assist others in their determination to improve victim services wherever they are needed.


Contact Us

If you would like to know more about our Quality Mark standards please get in touch.

As well as our Quality Mark assessment, we also offer a touchpoint analysis to help you determine if your organisation is “Quality Mark ready.”

We are happy to provide more information on request.

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Russia needs to kick-start reform on Domestic Violence

Russia’s hosting of a very successful World Cup finals is a major step in a campaign to enhance the country’s international reputation – and the warmth of the welcome for visiting football fans, the quality of the new stadiums and other infrastructure, along with slick organisation of the tournament, seem to be shifting opinion in Europe away from a perception of an authoritarian, belligerent, isolationist state. (more…)

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A voice for victims

We live at a time when the visual is just as, if not more, important than words; indeed, when we are bombarded with the notion that “image is everything” it’s easy to lose sight of the substance that needs to sit behind it. That can be as true of websites as it is of the weekend colour supplements. (more…)

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