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The Victim’s Charter

March 25, 2006
How many police officers out there are aware of this one?

This is the latest piece of legislation that the Home Office have chucked out in an effort to make it look like they are doing something positive to fight crime.

Click here to read all about it.

This comes into effect in April and basically makes it compulsory for criminal justice agencies to maintain contact with victims.

I’ve mentioned it on this blog before about officers who get complaints for not doing simple things like phoning up a burglary victim to tell them they’ve caught the pondlife* who stole all their electrical items. How easy is it to make that call? How often do we get to pass on good news? The victim (in most cases) will be delighted. But no – we do all the other stuff and then forget about the person who started it all off.

Most officers I have dealt with have recognised the importance of keeping victims informed and making sure they document the contact. The Home Office Counting Rules, which have been in force for years, make it clear that no crime report can be filed unless the victim has been told. In particular, one of the conditions of claiming a detection is that the victim (if applicable) has been told that someone has been charged or cautioned.

So why has this legislation been brought in? It doesn’t change the processes that the police should go through. In that respect, it is probably the only recent law change that hasn’t increased the administrative burden on officers. The charter doesn’t give details of any sanctions for non-compliance, because it is already covered by the police complaints procedure.
It introduces deadlines for other agencies to provide information, but without sanctions, who is going to bother? Who ever made a complaint about the CPS that was dealt with and the guilty party punished? When was the last time a court clerk was disciplined for not passing information on to the police?

It is yet another publicity stunt. Hopefully the officers who can’t be bothered to make a quick phone call will be goaded into taking more positive action. As a supervisor, I make sure that any reports I file have been dealt with properly, to the extent of making quality assurance calls to the victim. Sergeants out there who don’t check their officers reports thoroughly in future might find themselves having to account for their lack of supervision.

*With apologies to all toads, algae and single celled organisms reading this who are offended by being compared to criminals. Also apologies to the Professional Standards Department of Nottinghamshire Police, who think it is worthwhile to investigate and suspend an officer for using this description of the criminal fraternity.

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