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The BBC's Nick Robinson
"There will be more too for victims of rape"
 real 56k

Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 13:37 GMT
Cash boost for crime victims
Weapons seized by the police
Weapon attack victims will receive more compensation
Crime victims are to be given more help from the justice system under proposals to be announced by Home Secretary Jack Straw.

The measures will be spelt out by Mr Straw on Saturday at Labour's spring conference in Glasgow.

He is one of a series of Cabinet ministers lining up to appear on the second day of the gathering.

They include Education Secretary David Blunkett and Health Secretary Alan Milburn, who will hail the government's record on public services investment and reform.

Jack Straw
Jack Straw: Funding announcement
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told delegates that the Conservatives were "running scared" over the issue of Europe.

In his speech, Mr Straw will announce a 6m increase in April in funding for Victim Support, aimed principally at expanding the number of in-court witness support units.

He will signal increased tariffs under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for the victims of child sex abuse, serious sexual offences such as rape and multiple serious injuries.

Machete attack

The latter category would cover victims who suffer the kind of attack endured by nursery nurse Lisa Potts.

She was badly injured and psychologically scarred in a machete attack at her Wolverhampton nursery.

Earlier this month Miss Potts condemned the "unfairness" of a 49,784 payout which covered only three of her multiple injuries.

Lisa Potts
Lisa Potts: "Disappointed" with payout
The planned changes will need parliamentary approval.

Mr Straw, who will publish the government's much vaunted anti-crime strategy later this month, will also urge the courts to enforce more rigorously compensation orders, under which offenders have to pay reparations to victims.

He will say that ministers are to begin consultations on plans for a victims' rights bill, which would give victims a clearly stated range of rights in areas like compensation and fair treatment by the criminal justice agencies.

Ombudsman proposal

The government will consult on the creation of an ombudsman, who would champion victims' rights in general, and investigate individual complaints of inadequate treatment by the criminal justice agencies.

One option to be considered will be setting up the new victims' rights on a statutory basis.

Mr Straw will also highlight that from April, victims of serious violent or sexual crimes, whose attackers are serving more than 12 months, will have the right to be notified about and asked for their views on release arrangements.

Robin Cook
Robin Cook: "Tories saddled"
In his speech, Mr Cook argued that the government emerged from the recent Nice summit of EU leaders having achieved the vast bulk of its objectives and had subsequently highlighted Tory difficulties over Europe.

Mr Cook said: "The eurosceptics are the militant tendency of the Tory Party. They have saddled their front bench with a totally impossible demand.

"They want a Tory government to renegotiate our terms of membership so that they could pick and choose which European laws they observe."

Election turnout

Mr Blunkett will take up a theme raised on Friday by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and Commons leader Margaret Beckett, who both warned about the importance of working for a good turnout at the election.

The line-up of Cabinet speakers also includes Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, whose performances are traditionally a highlight of Labour conferences.

Leader of the House of Lords and Women's Minister Baroness Jay is expected to tell the conference that New Labour, with its record number of women MPs, has "changed the face of politics".

Prime Minister Tony Blair will deliver his speech to the conference's closing session on Sunday.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | UK
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16 Feb 01 | UK Politics
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Labour gears up for election
17 Feb 01 | UK Politics
'Tories running scared on Europe' - Cook
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