Families who face living with the heartache of losing a loved one at the hands of a killer came together for an annual conference.
The National Victims’ Association hosted the event in South Shields this weekend, bringing together relatives of murder and manslaughter victims from across the country.
Founder David Hines, from Jarrow, spoke about the group’s campaign which will call on the Government to remove convicted killers from the Human Rights Act or exclude them from the Bill of Rights which could be passed.
The relatives of murder and manslaughter victims were among those who spoke at the conference, held at the Little Haven Hotel, which is now in its 18th year.
South Tyneside’s coroner Terence Carney, spoke about the need for the families of murder and manslaughter victims to be given legal support.
He said: “It is my duty to look after the family who are unrepresented.
“As much as we try to engage with them and explain the legal procedure, what they do need is their own legal representation.
He said his job as a coroner is to act as the balance of justice, not to be on one side or the other, and it is unfair that one party has legal representation and the other doesn’t.
He said it is unfair that in order to seek justice the family of victims may have to pay a fortune because there is no longer legal aid.
Also speaking at the event was MP for South Shields, Emma Lewell-Buck, who thanked the National Victims’ Association for supporting the victims who have been let down by the justice system.
She said: “All too often victims are denied justice and feel it is an immense struggle.
“The last thing people want is to spend years getting the justice owed to them and to have to relive the horror over and over again.”
The MP said she is going to campaign for a change in the law so that a parent convicted of killing another parent loses parental responsibilty so issues of custody of children cannot be dragged on through the courts for years, costing victims’ families thousands of pounds and causing added stress to the children.
The National Victims’ Association provides support, counselling, advice and advocacy to families bereaved through murder and manslaughter. Anyone who would like more information can visit www.victimsfirst.org.uk.