Appendix Six: Report under section 50 (a) of the Victims' Rights Act 2002
In September 2015, the Minister of Justice launched the Victims Code.
The Victims Code is a cross-agency initiative, led by the Ministry of Justice, and explains to victims of crime how they can expect to be treated by government agencies and other organisations that provide services to them, and how to get support.
The Victims Code brings together and explains eleven victims’ rights that exist in various Acts. The rights relate to five broad areas:
- information about programmes or services
- information about the progress of the case
- victims involvement during proceedings
- notifications after sentencing
- for victims in the youth justice system, to participate in family group conferences.
The Victims Code explains how victims can make a complaint if they believe they have not been afforded one or more of their rights, and who to direct their complaint to.
In addition, the Victims Code contains eight principles that guide how all agencies and organisations that provide a service to victims of crime should treat victims.
One of the ways the Victims Code aims to make government agencies more accountable when providing services to victims is through the complaints process.
Beginning 2015/16, agencies with key responsibilities to victims are required to report annually on the number of complaints received alleging a breach of a right or rights in the Code.
Not all agencies are responsible for each of the rights in the Code and the reporting obligation only applies to the right or rights that the agency is directly responsible for. Agencies work together to ensure all victim complaints are directed to the correct agency for a response.
During 2015/16, the Department received two complaints from registered victims.
Of those, one concerned incorrect information being provided and one concerned a potential breach.
Both complaints were investigated and were upheld.
Reviewing victim feedback and complaints is an important part of improving the Department’s, and the wider Justice Sector services to victims of crime.
Corrections is part of a victims of crime inter-agency committee, which comprises representatives from key Justice Sector agencies. This committee brings together non-identifying victim complaints data from the different agencies to identify trends and make service improvements.
Over the past year, the Department has implemented a number of changes to its operations in an effort to better meet victim needs, including:
- the ability for victims to update their contact details online
- reviewing the victim complaints handling procedures
- working on introducing an online complaints form on the Department of Corrections website under Information for Victims
- working with New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health to produce information about the Victim Notification Register.