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Criminal Injustice campaignis stepped up

The Home Office is due to reveal a radical move this month with the introduction of an independent watchdog for the victims of serious crime.

The proposal grew from the Criminal Injustice campaign in The Northern Echo, which aims to find support for the victims of crime.

National charities, northern MPs and the families of murder victims backed the campaign.

Its aims include establishing a ministry or agency to look after victims’ needs and giving families more rights to air their views at court proceedings.

Ministers are now considering the new proposals, which would put the rights of the victim ahead of those of the criminal.

The Home Office consultation paper will set out plans for a new Victims’ Charter and fits in with the introduction of statutory rights for victims.

Jim Edon, chairman of the Teesside branch of the Support After Murder and Manslaughter group, supported the proposals and said: “The perpetrators seem to have all the rights – we have no say in the justice system

“This is a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen whether it is a small one or a large one but I would welcome it for that reason.”

Home Secretary Jack Straw believes that the justice system is slanted in favour of the criminals and last year announced a £50,000 grant for relatives of people killed to help with travel and accommodation costs while they attend trials.

He also signalled his intention to give victims the right to describe the effect of their ordeal to the courts.

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