BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Monday, 10 April, 2000, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Victims march for better rights
Mary Bell
Families want tougher jail terms for killers like Mary Bell
Relatives of some of the most high-profile murder victims in UK criminal history have taken part in a march on Downing Street to demand longer sentences for killers and better rights for victims' families.

They were led by Winifred Johnson, whose son Keith Bennett was among the victims of the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

June Richardson, whose young son Martin Brown was killed by 11-year-old Mary Bell in 1968, was also at the demonstration.

The mothers were joined by 80 other relatives, some of whom had lost people in the Dunblane classroom massacre, the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy, and the Marchioness pleasure boat sinking on the River Thames.


Keith Bennett
Keith Bennett: his mother led the march
They marched from Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament, and delivered a petition to Downing Street calling for the creation of a post of government minister for victims.

They also want victims' families to be given greater legal rights and assistance, as well as longer jail terms for murderers.

Mrs Johnson said: "It seems sad in this day and age that the victims are treated worse than the perpetrators," she said.

'Tough sentencing'

"I believe in rehabilitation, but victims need help as well as murderers."

She added: "I would like to see Tony Blair come to his door and speak to us."

Mr Blair did not meet the marchers, but they did see Home Office minister Paul Boateng, who emphasized that his department had already issued tough sentencing guidelines.

"We must make sure that the justice system is more victim friendly," he said.

Achieved

"The home secretary takes very seriously his responsibility to oversee the decisions of trial judges."

The march was organised by the charity Victims' Voice, to mark the start of Victims' Rights Week.

A spokeswoman for the charity Victim Support, who did not attend the march, said: "We think that our work has already achieved many of the things that Victims' Voice are asking for."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

05 Aug 99 | UK Politics
Tory pledge on victims' rights
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories