Victims of major disasters like the Grenfell Tower fire and Hillsborough will be given extra support so their voices can be heard, under plans announced by the government.
It is consulting on the creation of an “independent public advocate”, who would guide bereaved families through the investigative process and inquests, keep them informed and ensure that they receive help.
It follows criticism of the handling of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and a damning report into the experience of relatives of the 96 Hillsborough victims, who battled for 28 years before seeing charges brought.
“It is clear there remain serious concerns about how far the voices of the bereaved are heard, and how far they are supported in fully understanding and participating in the investigatory process,” justice minister Edward Argar wrote in a consultation document.
“An independent public advocate will help to address these concerns. I am determined that we should never again see families struggling, as we did in the many years that followed Hillsborough, against the very system that was supposed to deliver answers – and, ultimately, justice.“
The proposals are part of the government’s first ever victims strategy, which comes after research found the majority of crime victims have no confidence in the justice system and police are routinely falling short of their obligations.
As violent crime rises, figures show that almost half of all criminal investigations in England and Wales are closed with no suspects identified, and the proportion ending with a charge has fallen to just 9 per cent.
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