Ministry of Justice proposals to boost support for crime victims by £50m has been welcomed by the charity Brake, a UK-wide provider of support for families devastated by road death and injury.
The Ministry of Justice consultation “Getting it right for Victims & Witnesses”, sets out how an increase in fixed penalty fines for traffic offences to £80-100 will create additional funds to support victims of crime, including road traffic crime. It states rights of victims will be enshrined in a new victims’ code, and the government will consider making this law in future.
Brake is highlighting that support for road crash victims remain grossly under-funded, and is urging government to use extra revenue from law-breaking drivers to plug the gaps in support for families bereaved and seriously injured on roads. While burglary victims automatically receive an offer of face-to-face support, funded by government, crash victims whose loved ones have been violently killed, or who have suffered life-changing injuries, do not. Brake supports these families through a helpline and packs, part-funded by government. But many remain unable to access a clear pathway of support, and Brake urges the government to rectify this. Read Brake’s campaign for support for crash victims.
JulieTownsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Brake welcomes the government’s proposals to boost support for victims, including families devastated by road death and serious injury. We urge the government to ensure this cash boost, being largely generated from drivers who endanger others by breaking traffic laws, is used to plug the gaps in support for road crash victims. While we have seen a recent increase in government funding for these victims, this remains a grossly under-funded area, with many unable to access a clear pathway of support.”
“Families affected by road death and serious injury experience appalling, often long-term, emotional suffering and trauma, as well as having to deal with bewildering practical procedures. They are victims of violent, man-made and preventable casualties, many involving law-breaking, and are therefore all deserving of government support. Brake is appealing to the government to recognise this, and ensure all bereaved and seriously injured crash victims are offered the comprehensive and specialist support they need and deserve.”
In July 2011, Louise Casey, then Victims’ Commissioner, called on the government to fill the gap in support for bereaved road crash victims, and for the needs of culpable road death victims, alongside the needs of homicide victims, to be recognised by law and put at the heart of the criminal justice system. She stated “the Government should make it a high priority for those bereaved by culpable road death to receive a service similar to the new offer outlined above for those bereaved through homicide [Victim Support’s government-funded Homicide Service].” Read Brake’s reaction to her recommendations.