Dylan Thorne

Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Victims' needs should be met

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Crime affects all facets of society but it's the victim who pays the ultimate price.

Victims and their families have to deal with the ongoing trauma long after a crime has faded from public memory. So, it's concerning to learn many victims feel marginalised by the court process and that their anguish is often exacerbated by the justice process.

Yesterday, the Bay of Plenty Times reported that the Sensible Sentencing Trust feels victims are not getting the support they need as they navigate the court process.

Over the past year, 17,734 victims of crime nationwide have called a Justice Ministry victims' information line for support and advice - 464 from the Bay of Plenty.

Bay Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Ken Evans wants to see a victim support network set up in local regions and aims to set up a local victim support centre early next year.

His view that not enough is being done for victims is supported by Gilbert Elliott, father of murdered Dunedin woman Sophie Elliott, who was a member of a group which submitted to the Victims of Crime Reform Bill on ways to improve the court process for victims and their families.

Victim Support was helpful, but it was predominantly run by volunteers who did not know a lot about the court process, he says.

A national victims' centre was established last year within the Justice Ministry to promote victims' rights and entitlements.

The victims' centre was originally supposed to run for 18 months to establish a victims' code.

However, Justice Minister Judith Collins has announced the project will be extended until June 2014, with Ms Collins conceding the justice system has not been as straightforward and supportive as it could be for victims of crime.

It's good to see that something is being done at both a national and local level to better victims and to make sure their needs are not forgotten in favour of the offender as the defence attempts to fight the charge and the prosecution seeks to get a conviction.

Let's hope that the Government's move to promote victims' rights makes the court process easier for those directly affected by crimes.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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