Justice Minister, Naomi Long, today emphasised the importance of making the needs and interests of victims central to the criminal justice system.
Addressing an event marking the 40th anniversary of Victim Support Northern Ireland, the Minister outlined an ambitious programme of work which is underway to better understand and address the needs of victims and witnesses.
The recently published Victim and Witness Strategy 2021-24 builds on a range of support measures already in place.
Minister Long said: “One of my key priorities has been to improve outcomes for victims and witnesses and I have listened to the experiences of many victims, their families and the organisations who represent them. I have focused on doing everything in my power to ensure that the needs and interests of victims are at the centre of the justice system.”
“Since becoming Justice Minister, I have taken practical steps to do that, including establishing a new role for a Victims of Crime Commissioner, and delivering on recommendations contained in the Gillen Review to provide additional support for victims in cases of serious sexual assaults.
“This new strategy brings together both practical outcomes and further work to help us better understand what victims and witnesses need. It will ensure that victims and witnesses receive more effective emotional and practical support, both as they recover from the impact of crime, and as they engage with the criminal justice system through a range of programmes, pilots and initiatives.
“It will bring a focus to ensuring that we consider the needs of victims and witnesses as we put in place new policies, strategies and operational practices; and also include a commitment to consistently provide the information and services that victims and witnesses need and are entitled to.”
The Minister acknowledged the work of the multi-agency Victim and Witness Steering Group who contributed to the development of the strategy and welcomed their commitment to a partnership approach to delivering improvements for victims and witnesses.
Minister Long also paid tribute to the staff and volunteers of Victim Support Northern Ireland and thanked them for their commitment and dedication to their work over the past 40 years.
She said: “Victim Support Northern Ireland is a key partner in the criminal justice system to support people when they need it most. The needs of victims and witnesses have evolved significantly over the past 40 years and Victim Support Northern Ireland has continued to grow as an organisation to ensure that victims and witnesses have the help and support that they need.”
WATCH: Minister Long attends the Victim Support NI 40th anniversary event on our youtube channel
The Victim and Witness Strategy 2021-24 is available at the publication section of this website
Notes to editors:
- The Victim and Witness Steering Group comprises: Department of Justice, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Public Prosecution Service, Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service, Probation Board for Northern Ireland, Victim Support Northern Ireland and National Society Prevention of Cruelty to Children (Young Witness Service).
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