We only have a small number of cases where the victim was due to attend a parole hearing to read out their victim personal statement (VPS), or where the victim had asked for the statement to be read out by someone else on their behalf.
In order to ensure that the victim’s wishes are respected we are making arrangements for the victim (or other person) to read out the VPS via a Skype meeting to the parole panel. We are seeking the victim’s preference on this.
All of our members have Skype for business on their laptops and so setting up a Skype meeting is fairly easy.
Where the victim or other person has Skype then they can join by simply clicking on a link and have the choice of using the video or audio options. For anyone who does not have Skype there is also a dial up number that can be used (with an additional conference ID).
We also invite the legal representative of the prisoner and a Secretary of State representative to attend to ensure propriety.
In each case we have asked that:
- There is someone with the victim to support them as it can be quite traumatic
- They are in a quiet place where they cannot be interrupted or overheard
- That if using the video option they do not have anything in the background that can identify where they are or any individual (photographs etc)
We have taken the decision that the prisoner should not be present (for logistical and safety/security reasons) unless they submit an objection.
We are looking at other solutions for our actual parole hearings (Zoom, Video Conferencing Centres) and are keeping the victim involvement separate to make them more manageable.