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A Victim’s right to read ALL of their Impact Statement

A Victim’s right to read ALL of their Victim Impact Statement
25th November 2019

Having their VIS filtered, edited or changed takes away the victim’s right to express how the offender or offenders’ selfish behaviour and choices have affected their lives or their loved ones lives.”

The National Party’s proposal that Victim Impact Statements (VIS) should be read in court exactly as the victim has written them is backed by the Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) who have long advocated for the right of victims to be able to do this.

SSGT Victim Advocate Manager Leigh Woodman said the only time a victim truly has the opportunity to speak about the trauma they have endured after a serious violent crime is through reading their Victim Impact Statement out in court.

“Having their VIS filtered, edited or changed takes away the victim’s right to express how the offender or offenders’ selfish behaviour and choices have affected their lives or their loved ones lives.”

“Once a serious violent offence has occurred the Crown take over in all things to do with the trial and the victims literally have little say in the entire process; it is almost like they are invisible. It is the very worst feeling in the world, the feeling of complete futility and uselessness at not having any right to truly be a part of the process; it can be utterly soul destroying. It is like the victims don’t really exist, and this makes victims feel isolated by the Justice system – the very system that is supposed to help them, retraumatises them by taking away the very few rights they have.”

Leigh said the very meaning of the words ‘Victim Impact Statement’ should be exactly what it says and give the victims the right to say what the impact has been on them; not only allow them to read out the parts they have written that the Judge or Police think is acceptable – that is not a true Victim Impact statement!  

“It is the only time the victims can voice their feelings and while incredibly difficult to do, it can also be empowering. It is such a little ask to involve the victims in the court process and can make a huge difference to them in this horrific journey.”ENDS


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