Knife campaigner welcomes reform

A CAMPAIGNING mother whose son was murdered has welcomed changes to the criminal justice system designed to give more support to victims of crime.

James Hore

A CAMPAIGNING mother whose son was murdered has welcomed changes to the criminal justice system designed to give more support to victims of crime.

Ann Oakes-Odger's son, Westley, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack at a cash-point in Colchester in September 2005.

Mrs Oakes-Odger has dedicated her life to campaigning for victims of crime and was consulted by the Government about its new National Victims' Service.


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She took part in advisory meetings looking at the immediate and wider needs of victims' families to ensure the most appropriate services are available following the trauma of losing a loved one.

The idea of the new system is to replicate the one-to-one set up used by probation services which provide “end-to-end” management to offenders.

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Mrs Oakes-Odger, who lives in Colchester, said it was vital that more support is offered to grieving families.

She said: “I am delighted to have input to this new service and represent KnifeCrimes.Org at its official launch.

“Following the trauma of a murder the lives of families are changed forever and it is imperative that effective support systems are created to help bereaved families through this terrible ordeal.

“I am committed to continue working with Government to improve services for victims of crime and to campaign for continued improvements, in the light of personal experience and subsequent research.

“This is a journey that can never end for families of homicide but, it can and must be helped, understood and improved by society.”

After Westley's death, Mrs Oakes-Odger also called for tougher punishments for those who kill with knives so sentences could equate to gun murders.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw officially launched the victims' service this week.

He said: “The establishment of the National Victims' Service will be a defining moment.

“It will make sure that victims across England and Wales are provided with even greater personal support throughout the criminal justice process and beyond.

“If victims need help, we will continue to be there for them - for as long as they need it.

“It will make sure that the justice system is better focused on people's needs, and that everyone who works on crime - from the police to probation, from court staff to volunteers - understands that supporting victims is a central part of what they are there to do. Victims of crime deserve nothing less.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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