We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Victims' Commissioner quits saying 'justice system is in chaos'

Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird, who will leave her post on September 30, has accused the government of failing to prioritise victims and of 'side-lining' her office through its recruitment process.

The current Victims' Commisioner (VC) and former PCC for Northumbria has resigned, accusing the government of not having its priorities straight - either for victims or the role overall.

Dame Vera Baird was originally appointed to the role championing victims' rights in 2019. Fast forward three years and the former Labour MP is choosing to walk, rather than continue with a recruitment process that she claims her predecessor was not subject to. 

While Dame Vera took umbrage with how the post has been managed, her resignation letter - written to recently-appointed Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis - revealed that a "downgrading of victims' interests" was at the heart of her decision.

"The Victims' Bill remains inadequate and the 'British Bill of Rights' so severely threatens victims' human rights that it undermines what little progress the Victims' Bill is set to bring," she said.

This group is also being crippled by the current state of the criminal justice system, Dame Vera claimed. Victims are being exposed to "intolerable delay, anguish and uncertainty", as a result of the government's inability to properly tackle "the enormous and catastrophic backlog of cases" particularly in the Crown Court.

“This has exposed victims of these crimes to intolerable delay, anguish and uncertainty. It is no exaggeration to say that the criminal justice system is in chaos.”

The government's uncaring approach to victims can also be seen through how it has "sidelined" her office and mismanaged her reappointment, alleged the outgoing VC. 

Under Mr Lewis' predecessor Dominic Raab, Dame Vera had twice been invited to apply for a second term in post - despite her predecessor being offered an automatic second term.

She said: "Asking me to re-apply, given that two opportunities to re-appoint me have already passed, and my office is no longer given much access to ministers, seems more a ploy to keep me in place as a nominal post-holder in the short-term than a genuine invitation."

This sequence of events left Dame Vera to conclude that there is "nothing to be gained for victims by my staying in post". She will depart on September 30, after served out an extension to the role since June.

Dame Vera said: "The lack of engagement from the top at a time of great upheaval for victims reflected poorly on the Ministry of Justice’s priorities and the government’s approach."

Leave a Comment
View Comments 9
In Other News
Campaigners bring super complaint against police over stalking
Cambridgeshire officer cleared over off-duty nightclub incident
Offenders in probation hostels to face compulsory drug testing
More News