London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a new £3 million annual investment package to improve the Met police’s support of victims of crime.
At London’s first Victims Summit on Friday, the Mayor emphasised the importance of victims in the justice system, saying he hopes to create a justice system that “places victims at its heart” and encourages them to come forward and report their crime without hesitation.
The added funds come following research findings that one third of victims are unsatisfied with the service received from the Met.
Speaking to the SW Londoner, Khan said: “The justice process is really complicated. We’re gonna make it easy, but we’re also going to make sure that victims are considered at the start of the process and throughout rather than as an afterthought.”
To achieve this, the injection from City Hall will be used to establish a free phoneline for victims support and “develop mechanisms” to make information regarding their case more accessible.
The funding is also expected to expand Met victim-support teams and signpost victims to support services.
The Mayor said he hopes this will encourage victims to report crimes, act as witnesses for prosecution, and be part of the criminal justice service, including by joining the police.
Khan placed part of the blame for neglecting victims on the central government, saying: “We’re supporting victims by investment but we can’t do it alone. We’ve had 30 years of massive cuts in the funding, which is linked to real problems.”
Singling out the current Conservative government, the Mayor added: “The Government now has a responsibility to ensure victims’ rights are put at the heart of long overdue criminal justice reform and that these changes are made enforceable through the delivery of a Victims Bill.”
Asked whether the funding package was part of a wider overhaul of the Met, comparable to the transformation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary into the Police Service Northern Ireland, and whether this would include a name change, the Mayor said: “If you go and speak to anybody in Northern Ireland, 20 years on, there isn’t a utopian PSNI.
“But if it’s the case that we have to, we’ll look into that. I don’t think we’re there yet, but let’s wait and see.”
Claire Waxman, London’s first Victims’ Commissioner, said: “I welcome the Mayor’s investment today, as this will greatly help the Metropolitan Police improve their service to victims.
“But today goes beyond the Mayor and the police; this is about all partners working towards a whole systems change in the way victims are regarded and treated by our justice system.”
Also present at the summit were justice and policing delegations from Belfast, Berlin, and Quebec, who discussed their own experiences and solutions to the ensuring victims properly supported.
Justice Minister of Quebec, Simon Jolin-Barrette, presented his recent model for a specialised sexual and domestic violence court.
It includes such provisions as keeping the same prosecutor throughout the justice process so the victim does not have to repeatedly discuss the traumatic experience.
Asked how the Met could improve their relations with victims, Jolin-Barette said: “It takes courage to talk about the aggression these victims have been receiving, so the police need to be in the shoes of the victim when she comes to say the denunciation.”