The Victims’ Commissioner, Louise Casey, has called for statutory rights for families bereaved by homicide.
The new ‘Victims’ Law’ would include: the right to bury a murder victim within 28 days unless exceptional circumstances apply; a support package including a dedicated homicide caseworker to help on issues like housing and child care proceedings; the right to sentencing remarks from judges in writing and trial transcripts at a minimal cost to families; the right to information from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and to meet with the CPS lawyer at key stages of the legal process; and a Criminal Practice Direction to ensure families are treated with dignity and respect during court proceedings.
Christopher Kinch QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), said: “We are keen to be part of the debate over how best to interact with bereaved families, and remain acutely aware that the improvement of the trial process is an ongoing task.”
Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “These recommendations need to be taken seriously and call for a response.”
He said the CPS currently offers bereaved families face-to-face meetings at key stages, and will be extending this service. It will offer meetings where leave to appeal is granted, for example, after acquittal, and shortly before the hearing.