06/07/2011

New Law Presented For Bereaved Families

The Victims' Commissioner, Louise Casey, will today call for a new law which will put into statute rights for families bereaved by homicide.

The move follows a six-month review by Ms Casey, into the treatment of families who have suffered the ultimate loss at the hands of criminals, but who often don't get the support, care or consideration they deserve.

Ms Casey's report, which includes the largest ever survey of bereaved families, calls for a law which will set out rights that the criminal justice system should afford families as well as the practical help and support they should receive.

The Victims' Commissioner said: “I have met many families who have had loved ones murdered and they talk about how the legal process was almost as traumatic as the crime itself. This can't be right. We ask people not to go out and take the law into their own hands. We ask that people come to court and give evidence so that nasty people can be locked up. In return, the criminal justice system needs to do better.”

Ms Casey continued: “Families deserve to bury the body of their child without defence lawyers asking for autopsy after autopsy. They deserve not to have to sit next to the defendant's family in court listening to them laughing, or being intimidated by them. They deserve to be told that their husband's killer is going to be released before they bump into him in a supermarket. They deserve to be treated with some humanity in the witness box.

“Bereaved families have few rights, no real route of complaint, they are often given little information and sometimes treated as an inconvenience in a legal game. Now is the time for something concrete to be set out in law - promises are no longer good enough. The system must be levelled up so victims and bereaved families are no longer seen as bystanders or an inconvenience as the wheels of justice turn.”

The support package should include a dedicated homicide caseworker offering help and advice on issues like housing and child care proceedings.

There should be access to trauma and bereavement counselling from approved providers and a national network of peer support groups should be available to provide befriending and support for families.

Ms Casey has also called for a national protocol governing the police's review of cases which remain unresolved including how regularly they are reviewed and mandatory communication with the families concerned.

Recommendations in Ms Casey's report were informed by the largest survey of bereaved families ever undertaken. More than 400 families were contacted to inform her review and reveal the true toll of bereavement on families.

The report will be presented to the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

(BMcN)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

12 May 2011
Costs Highlighted For Families In Crime Aftermath
Families who have lost loved ones due to crime are facing costs of £37,000 on average as they struggle to pick up the pieces, according to the latest survey.
08 February 2010
Bereaved Police Families Supported
Families of police officers killed in the line of duty are to get financial support through a new government-funded scheme, it was announced today. The Police Survivor Support Scheme will see up to £20,000 given to families left struggling financially after officers have been killed while keeping the streets of the country safe.
15 February 2007
7 July memorial to be held in Hyde Park
A memorial to commemorate the lives of the 52 people who died in the July 7 bombings is to be located in Hyde Park, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced today. The government had planned initially to build a monument in Tavistock Square, the site of one of the attacks, but after talks with families of the bereaved, Hyde Park has been chosen.
26 July 2006
Victory for Iraq families at Court of Appeal
The families of British soldiers killed in Iraq have made a legal breakthrough in their bid to get a full public inquiry held into why Britain entered into the conflict. The Court of Appeal ruled that the families were entitled to apply for a judicial review of the government's refusal to hold an independent inquiry.
19 July 2011
Consultation Launched Over Suicide Prevention Strategy
A new consultation on preventing suicide has been launched today by the Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow. Bereaved families and experts in general practice, local government, transport, mental health and criminal justice will all help to inform a new strategy to be published in the New Year.
13 June 2011
More Support For Families Of The Missing
Campaigners have urged the government to support "heartbroken" families of those who have gone missing. One of three mothers involved in the campaign is Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine, then 3, went missing in Portugal in 2007. Addressing MP's she said it should not be down to "grieving parents" to search for their child.
22 February 2006
Victims' families need more support, report suggests
The families of murder and manslaughter victims require more support from police, courts and support groups, a report has suggested. The survey, conducted by Victim Support, comprised interviews with 41 bereaved relatives as well as findings from focus groups with police, probation employees and Victim Support employees and volunteers.
22 October 2003
Families of drug users urged to seek support
The families of drug users are being urged to seek support through a new campaign, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced today. The two-year anti-stigma campaign aims to "take away the shame" faced by relatives of drug abusers and encourage them to seek advice and assistance.
08 August 2003
Families of Omagh bomb victims receive cash support
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy has confirmed that the government will provide £800,000 to the families of the Omagh bomb victims in their fight to bring those responsible to justice. To date only one person, Colm Murphy, has been convicted in connection to the Real IRA blast which killed 29 people in August 1998.
18 March 2009
Reforms To Bill Address Needs Of Scotland Based Service Families
Families of Scottish service personnel killed abroad will no longer have to travel to England to attend their loved one's inquests under proposed amendments to the coroners system, Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said today.
21 March 2011
Streamlined Service To Help Bereaved Relatives
People across the UK dealing with the difficult situation of the death of a relative will now be able to check if they’re eligible for help with funeral costs or for other benefits in just one phone call.
05 January 2012
Report 'Damning Verdict' On Tax Proposal
The Labour Party has described a report on the Government's plans on tax and benefits as a "damning verdict". Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said a report commissioned by the Family and Parenting Institute, on the prospects for poverty and income on families up to 2015, left the Government's family-friendly claims "in tatters".
22 February 2010
Life For Gardening Murderer
A gardener has been jailed for life after being found guilty of the murder of 54-year-old Lynda Casey from Coulsdon in Surrey. Ms Casey's body was found by police search teams in an area of Banstead Woods in Surrey known as Great Solom’s Wood on 13 August 2009. A post mortem examination showed she had suffered multiple head injuries.
06 July 2005
Downing Street defends adviser’s comments
The government’s adviser on anti-social behaviour has been supported by Downing Street, after she was recorded allegedly praising binge drinking.
27 January 2011
Families Suffer As Bomb Clearance Continues
About 50 families have spent a second night out of their homes on Wednesday as the PSNI Commander in north Belfast said he hopes the ongoing security alert on the Antrim Road will be over by Thursday evening.