The father of murder victim Sophie Elliott is backing a call
for an independent commissioner to advocate for families of
victims of crime.
Britain appointed its first Victims' Commissioner, Helen
Newlove, in December last year - and she has already
suggested changes that would make that country's parole
system more transparent and inclusive of victims.
New Zealand's Red Raincoat Trust, which supports families of
homicide victims, is calling for the appointment of a
Victims' Commissioner here.
The move has the support of Sensible Sentencing Trust
spokesman Gil Elliott, whose daughter Sophie was stabbed to
death by Clayton Weatherston in 2008.
Mr Elliott said the Ministry of Justice's victims reference
group, of which he is a member, has discussed the idea of a
commissioner or ombudsman to help victims of crime.
He said a Victims' Commissioner could have helped to make his
journey easier following his daughter's death.
A lot of people looked after victims, including Victim
Support, but it would be helpful if there was one place to go
to get advice, Mr Elliott said.
"It's very difficult often for victims to know exactly where
they're going, because you become a victim immediately and
you've never been in that position before," he said.
"Apart from all the trauma and grief and God knows what, you
don't know where to go to get advice, or who's going to look
after you - it just adds to the trauma."
Red Raincoat Trust spokeswoman Debbie Marlow said some
agencies failed to adequately gauge the needs of victims
because of the sensitive nature of homicide, which often led
to misconceptions about what was required.
"New Zealand could easily appoint an independent Victims'
Commissioner who could oversee the interaction between
agencies and the victims, ensuring that their approach
becomes more coordinated and consistent.
"It's a great idea and one that should be seriously
considered here in New Zealand."
Justice Minister Judith Collins was not immediately available