Police commissioner candidate victim plea backed

Adam Simmonds, the Conservative candidate for the role of Northamptonshire Police Comissioner
Adam Simmonds, the Conservative candidate for the role of Northamptonshire Police Comissioner

Calls by Adam Simmonds, candidate to be Northamptonshire’s first elected police and crime commissioner, for more to be done for victims of crime, are also being made nationally by one of Britain’s former top policemen.

Mr Simmonds, who is the Conservative candidate to be Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner at the November elections, has said that one of his key pledges is to put victims of crime at the centre of the criminal justice system instead of criminals.

He said: “I want to see victims of crime put first, not criminals, with much more being done to help and support victims of crime.

“And I want to see people feeling that they can have more trust and confidence in the police than they do now. 
“All too often the system and money is focused on criminals, court procedures and their care, while victims of crime such as violence and burglary can be left to pick up the pieces themselves, frequently with little or no support from the police or anyone else.

“So my campaign is also about dealing with those who are the victims of crime. The fallout for them can impact for decades and possibly even lifetimes on individuals and communities.

“The Ministry of Justice recently published a consultation document, ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses’ in which they set out some sensible policy changes to make a difference to some of the most vulnerable in our society – those directly impacted by violence upon themselves and those who step up to offer their support through testimony to put an end to criminality.

“Proper protection and support for victims of crime is fundamental to my vision of a reformed criminal justice system. Victims of crime must be able to rely on swift, sure justice which punishes offenders properly, and on intelligent justice which demands that offenders face up to the causes of their behaviour, protecting future victims from similar trauma.

“But more than that, victims need sympathetic and timely support which helps them to recover, as well as to understand and cope with the inevitable stresses of investigation and trial. This support should be properly funded, increasingly by offenders rather than taxpayers. Cash compensation should be focused on blameless victims of the most serious crimes.”

In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, Sir Paul Stephenson, who headed the Metropolitan Police until last year, said that with hindsight he was unsure he had always struck the right balance between pursuing tough sanctions for criminals and allowing the widening of softer, “diversionary schemes” for offenders during his 35-year career as a police officer.

Adam Simmonds concluded: “I agree entirely with the views expressed by Sir Paul Stephenson when he says that too many offenders are handed a slap on the wrist - such as a police caution or on-the-spot fine - rather than being prosecuted in the courts for their crimes. And that police and the courts will “never properly command the confidence of the public” unless they deal seriously with burglars, violent criminals and those who exhibit persistent anti-social behaviour.”