Campaigner cautious over Victims’ Code

CAMPAIGNER ... David Hines.
CAMPAIGNER ... David Hines.

A CAMPAIGNER for better care for the victims of crime from South Tyneside has spoken with caution about the Victims’ Code.

David Hines, director of Victimcare and head of services and development with the National Victims’ Association, organised a meeting at South Shields’ Little Haven Hotel to discuss the planned victims’ code.

A proposed code is under consultation until May and will replace an existing code, promising to provide more help and support for victims of crimes and their families.

Mr Hines, whose daughter Marie was murdered by her former partner in 1992, invited the candidates standing in the upcoming by-election to be the next South Shields MP to meet families whose loved ones have been murdered and give their opinions on whether the new Victims’ Code is good enough.

He said: “I’d like to thank all of those who came and gave their time.

“It’s a shame that none of the parties saw it as an opportunity to send policy makers to the event to hear what we had to say – it seemed like a perfect opportunity, given the seat is up for grabs.

‘Right direction’

“I’d also like to thank the council who have been a great help throughout setting Victimcare up and giving us help to expand.

“I agreed with some of the things the candidates said and disagreed with some.

“What I will say, it that while the Victims’ Code is a step in the right direction, it is not enough.”

At the event, there were families of murder victims including Lynda Lovatt, who was stabbed to death by her former partner Craig Sexton in her South Shields home in 2004.

Miss Lovatt’s cousin Corinne Martin, who now brings up the couple’s children, agreed that more needed to be done to help victims.

She said: “There is hardly any help available, once the criminal side of things is dealt with everything goes away.

“At the time it happened there was only really Dave for us to speak to, he has set up Victimcare now so there is some help – but he needs help with funding as well.”

Mr Hines added: “We’re taking part in the consultation about the code but it won’t work.

“All the agencies say they are going to abide by it, but inevitably they don’t and because it is not in statute, there is no comeback for them.

“What we would like to see is a victims’ law brought in, which will ensure what agencies say they will deliver actually happens.

“Labour say they are going to do that and the Coalition Government say they’re looking at a Bill of Rights, which would also be better than the code.”