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Lords ask government to think again on Victims and Prisoners Bill

22 May 2024

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Members of the House of Lords concluded their further examination of the Victims and Prisoners Bill in report stage on Tuesday 21 May.

The Victims and Prisoners Bill aims to improve the support and guidance offered to victims of crime and major incidents, and those suffering bereavement, including through the appointment of specialist advocates. 

The bill will also implement planned government reforms of the parole system, including preventing life-term inmates from marrying and greater ministerial oversight of the Parole Board and the early release of dangerous offenders.

Detailed scrutiny

Report stage is an extra chance for members to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes.   

Proposed changes

Report stage took place over four days between 16 April and 21 May 2024.

Members speaking on the fourth and final day of report stage put forward amendments (PDF) to the bill on subjects including:

  • appointment, resignation and dismissal of the chair and vice chair of the Parole Board
  • application of the Human Rights Act in certain legislation.

Lords divisions

There were three divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Members voted to agree two amendments regarding the register and licence conditions of serial stalking and domestic abuse perpetrators.

A third amendment on release tests for those serving an imprisonment for public protection sentence was voted on but disagreed to by members of the House.

Catch up

Explore further information

Find out more about the issues discussed in the House of Lords Library briefing.

Next steps

Third reading, a chance to 'tidy up' the bill and make changes, is scheduled for Tuesday 4 June.

What's happened so far?

Report stage day three: Tuesday 30 April

Members speaking on day three of report stage put forward amendments to the bill on subjects including:

  • data collection on victims of crime
  • informing victims of the time limit in place to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal
  • services provided to victims of major incidents.

Lords divisions

There were five divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Members voted to agree changes to ensure:

  • public servants act in the public interest and with transparency during major incidents
  • personal data of a victim of crime is not used for immigration control purposes without their consent.

Members disagreed to a change on the rates of compensation for victims of the infected blood scandal.

Votes also took place on informing victims of the time limit in place to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal, and requiring the Secretary of State to confirm whether the government intend to establish an inquiry within six months of a major incident. Votes were tied in both amendments, meaning under Lords procedures, the amendments were disagreed.

The government also accepted Lords members' proposals to require the compensation scheme for victims of the infected blood scandal to be created within three months of the bill becoming law.

Catch up

Report stage day two: Tuesday 23 April

Members speaking on day two of report stage put forward amendments (PDF) to the bill on subjects including:

  • needs of victims under the age of 18
  • consultation with the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses on the victims' code
  • ensuring compliance with the victims' code.

Lords divisions

There were five divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Members voted on changes to ensure justice agencies are adequately trained on the victims' code and to create a duty for public authorities to co-operate with the victims and witnesses commissioner. Members voted to agree these changes.

Votes also took place on free access to transcripts of sentencing remarks, free legal advocates for rape victims in every police force and the removal of the presumption of custody for children of offenders of child sexual abuse. Members disagreed with these changes, and so they were not made.

Report stage day one: Tuesday 16 April

Members speaking on day one of report stage put forward amendments (PDF) to the bill on subjects including:

  • support for victims of homicide abroad
  • victims of persistent anti-social behaviour
  • training regarding violence against women for criminal justice personnel.

There were two divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill on anti-social behaviour and child criminal exploitation. Members disagreed with the proposed changes, and so they were not made.

Catch up

Committee stage

Line-by-line examination of the bill took place during committee stage over eight days between Wednesday 24 January and Monday 25 March 2024.

Second reading

Second reading, a full debate on the key principles of the bill, took place on Monday 18 December 2023.

Image: William Cho / Pixabay

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