Revisions to the code
The Victims Code has been revised three times since it was first introduced in 2006.
The Code was most recently updated in March 2020, after the Government conducted a second consultation on the Victims Code of Practice, seeking views on the proposed changes with the ambition to improve the criminal justice system for victims. Further information on the consolation and a summary of its findings can be found here. As a result of the consultation, the Ministry of Justice has produced a revised Victims Code of Practice (2020) which will take effect from April 1 2021. The revised Code can be found here.
In October 2015, the code was amended to bring in new measures to comply with the European Union Victims’ Directive, which came into force in November 2015. The main changes to the Code were:
- Broadening the definition of a victim to include victims of all offences. Previously victims of some offences, such as careless driving or minor criminal damage, were not entitled to services under the Code.
- Ensuring that victims are entitled to receive support and information from all relevant public sector bodies. Organisations such as HMRC, the Serious Fraud Office and the National Crime Agency now have obligations to victims under the Code.
- Entitling all victims who report a crime to receive a written acknowledgement from the police.
The Code was previously revised in December 2013 to clarify victims’ entitlements and the obligations of criminal justice agencies. The update gave victims the right to read a Victim Personal Statement in court (subject to the views of the court) and to receive information about taking part in restorative justice schemes.