Govt pledges greater support for disaster victims

Govt pledges greater support for disaster victims

As part of a cross-department initiative dubbed Victims Strategy, the Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation with a view to providing bereaved families a greater role during investigations into how and why such tragedies unfolded.

It includes an opportunity for their voices to be heard at inquests, and direction to appropriate support services, via the creation of an independent public advocate.

Justice Minister Edward Argar said it is clear there remain serious concerns about how far the voices of the bereaved are heard, with the government having been criticised for its handling of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Earlier this year, Theresa May admitted she will always regret not meeting survivors of the fire the day after the tragedy unfolded as it gave the impression she did not care.

She said the new strategy, which also aims to improve support for victims of crime, showed the government was taking steps to enshrine the rights of victims into law for the first time.

Nothing can take away the distress and trauma of being a victim of crime, but ensuring people get the support they need as they rebuild their lives is vital, the prime minister said.

How we support victims is fundamental to a caring society, and in recognition of that we are taking steps to enshrine their rights in law for the very first time.

The duty of a government is to keep people safe, but it is not enough to simply bring offenders to court.

Victims need to know they are protected and listened to, and we will continue to work with charities and support groups to improve their experience.

The strategy, which also outlines plans to fully review the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme after critics warned some victims are unfairly denied payouts, will be consulted on until early December.

In a foreword, Mr Argar said he hoped to ensure the painful experience of families of the 96 who died at Hillsborough would never be repeated.

Last November, a damning 240-page report into how the relatives were dehumanised after the tragedy was published by the former Bishop of Liverpool.

Mr Argar said An independent public advocate will help to address these concerns.

I am determined that we should never again see families struggling, as we did in the many years that followed Hillsborough, against the very system that was supposed to deliver answers and, ultimately, justice.

During the consultation period, officials will assess a number of proposed rules, including a time limit on when applications for compensations must be lodged and restrictions on claims from those with criminal records.

The Ministry of Justice will also weigh up whether to extend the crimes covered to include grooming.

In addition to the review, which will report back next year, the government has also announced that a controversial bar on financial awards to victims if they lived in the same home as their attacker before 1979 will be abolished.

Justice Secretary David Gauke will discuss the plans live on Sunrise on Sky News at 7.15am on Monday.

News Source SkyNews

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