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MoJ announces major funding boost for domestic and sexual abuse victim support services
25 March 2022, 00:22 | Updated: 25 March 2022, 00:31
£440 million will be given to victim support services by the Government in efforts to help those affected by sexual violence and domestic abuse.
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Justice Secretary Dominic Raab shared the announcement alongside other new measures, on a visit to Hatfield Police Station in Hertfordshire.
The station is home to Beacon Victim Care Centre - which will receive some of the funding.
The Deputy Prime Minister says the money will fund emotional, practical and therapeutic support for victims of crime - such as women and girls affected by domestic abuse.
Other measures to revamp the justice system include the extension of allowing survivors to give pre-recorded evidence.
These measures, which spare victims of rape and modern slavery the trauma of giving evidence in the full glare of a courtroom, will be rolled out to the North East of England.
Anna Ward is Family Hub Team Leader at Beacon and manages their Support Workers.
She told LBC: "It’s such a daunting thing, I think for victims to have to go to court and stand up in a room and sort of speak their truth and have it sort of rejected - and said that didn’t happen, when, you know, that is their truth, that’s what happened to them… a positive of having these pre-recorded interviews and being able to give evidence in that way - will maybe empower victims to be maybe more confident when they’re giving these interviews and relaying what happened to them."
Known as Section 28, the measure allows victims – subject to a successful application to the court – to have their cross-examination pre-recorded earlier in the process and outside of the live trial. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety to ensure they give their strongest evidence.
The provision will be introduced to Crown Courts in York, Grimsby, Hull, Bradford and Teesside in the coming weeks as part of a phased national roll out. It is already available at Liverpool, Leeds, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Harrow, Isleworth, Wood Green and Durham Crown Courts.
Dominic Raab also announced the introduction of local criminal justice scorecards - allowing services to see how effectively one another work in order to learn best practice.
The cards include information on the time taken for cases to be investigated by the police, for someone to be charged and for the case to be completed at court.
They may also in some ways allow local services to be held to account.
Raab told LBC: "We’re making sure that on victims, on things like the attitude, the culture, the working practices of police and prosecutors to make sure that they’re scrutinising the perpetrators, the suspects - not overly scrutinising and putting through the Spanish inquisition the victims who have come forward with all of the courage that that requires."
Data from the local criminal justice scorecards will be published alongside scorecards detailing the national picture.
The aim is to use this data to help drive a major increase in the number of prosecutions reaching court; it follows heavy criticism against the police due to extremely low convictions in rape and sexual abuse cases.
These measures all come as the Government relaunches it #ItStillMatters campaign – which it says will help raise awareness of sexual abuse support services, so that victims can get the help they need.