As from December 2013, once murderers, rapists and other criminals have been convicted, they will be forced to sit in court and listen to victims or their families describe through a pre-prepared statement the misery and heartache caused by their crimes. The harrowing details of suffering may well influence the length of sentence a judge applies. Currently, Victim Personal Statements are often handed over to the judge on paper, with extracts sometimes read to the court, but as part of a new Victims’ Code, to be published today, victims of crime or their relatives will be given a guarantee that their side can be heard before sentencing begins. If they do not want to read it out themselves the prosecutor can do it for them.
It is said, the process of writing and reading out the statement can help victims cope and recover from the crime. Yes, I get it, however, is a courtroom the proper place for a grand outpouring of emotion? Furthermore, if everyone insists upon their say, and perhaps breaking down in the process, might not a criminal case overrun, causing an even further backlog of cases to be heard? Other than personal satisfaction and the possibility of one’s statement influencing the jail term, what will it achieve? I don’t suppose many murderers or rapists give a shit as to the harm they’ve caused.