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National to put victims of crime first

John Key MP
National Party Leader

31 March 2008

National to put victims of crime first

Victims of crime will have their rights and support greatly expanded under a National Government, says National Party Leader John Key.

Mr Key today announced policies that will put victims’ rights first. These policies are part of National’s comprehensive law & order policy package.

“Victims of crime have been neglected for too long,” says Mr Key. “It’s time we gave them the support they deserve. A National Government will re-empower victims of crime.”

National will:

* Establish a Victim Compensation Scheme (VCS), which will be funded by a levy on all offenders at sentencing. It is envisaged the levy be $50. The scheme will help victims with one-off expenses not covered by ACC or other state help, such as travel to court and additional counselling.

* Direct compensation paid to prisoners into the VCS. Offenders continue to benefit from compensation payouts because the Labour Government still allows them to, and because there is reluctance on the part of victims to make claims. National will put any money left in the Victims Claims Trust Account after victims have been paid out into the VCS.

* Establish a Victims Services Centre within the Ministry of Justice to co-ordinate all agencies that deal with victims and support the work of Victim Support, provide an initial point of contact for victims, and receive and address victim complaints. It will also administer the VCS.

* Upgrade the Victim Notification Register to allow victims to be on an “active” register, which will notify them of developments relating to their case, or on a “silent” register, for those who don’t want to be involved any further, but which will record only their contact details so agencies can ensure offenders are not paroled to live near them. The registers will be maintained by the Victims Services Centre, which will update them through information sharing with other agencies and ensure victims get the support they need.

* Review the Victims Rights Act 2002 to ensure victims’ rights are recognised across the justice system. It is envisaged this review will result in concrete amendments to the Victims Rights Act 2002 that will enhance victims’ rights and access to support services, such as strengthening the ability to make a victim impact statement without censorship.

Mr Key wants victims of crime to feel supported after years of lost promises and neglect by Labour, which has a record of failure in this area.

“Helen Clark promised to look at a compensation fund for victims, among other things, as far back as 1994, but she has done nothing. Now she’s saying she’ll look at it again.

“I want to eliminate the all-too-frequent horror stories where victims are forced to re-live a traumatic event simply because the system has been deficient or has let them down, and where it seems offenders are getting a better deal than victims.

“These policies will help put a stop to all that.

“Late last year I released National’s policing policies. Earlier in the year we outlined our four-point approach to dealing with gangs, in January I released youth justice policies and in early February I pledged that National would axe Labour’s dangerous bail law amendments.

“Today we are releasing policies on victims of crime, and we will have more to say on this issue before election.”

ENDS


Attachment: policy briefing document (Word doc)

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