26/01/2009

Sara Payne Announced As Victims' Champion

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, has been announced as the new Victims' Champion.

Sara Payne has agreed to take on the post,which will last one year, and act as a new independent public vote for victims of and witnesses to crime.

She will work with existing victims' groups as well as with the Government's 60 neighbourhood Crime and Justice Coordinators, based around England and Wales.

Ms Payne - who was awarded an MBE in the New Year's honours - has campaigned for a "Sarah's Law" to reveal information on where paedophiles live.

Her eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by Roy Whiting in 2000, who was on the sex-offenders’ register after receiving a four-year sentencing for an earlier sexual assault on a young girl.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who chaired the panel which selected Mrs Payne, said she was the most impressive candidate in a strong field.

Mr Straw said: "Victims are the most important people in the criminal justice system.

"We must always ensure that their voice is heard loud and clear by policy-makers and campaigners.

"I know that Sara will be an excellent advocate for them.

"Her job will be to bring the concerns of victims of crime into sharp focus, making sure their views are heard when big decisions about policing or the criminal justice system are made."

Sara Payne’s 12-month appointment commences today, Monday 26 January.

(JM/BMcC)

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