Police Commissioner joins bereaved mums calling for a change in the law21.06.23 - Merseyside
PCC Emily Spurrell joined forces with bereaved mums in Liverpool this week as campaigners called for a change in legislation that would stop criminals from choosing to avoid being present at sentencing.
After Olivia Pratt-Korbel's murderer refused to leave his cell as a judge sentenced him to 42 years in prison, Radio City launched the #FaceTheFamily campaign, to bring people together to pressure Government to accelerate a change in legislation, that will compel offenders to attend sentencing hearings.
Olivia's mum, Cheryl Korbel, attended the summit at the Radio City Tower, along with other speakers including former Chief Prosecutor for the North West Nazir Afzal and the mother of murdered Hull student Libby Squire. The aim of the meeting was to bring together affected families, experts and politicians to share experiences and urge ministers to keep any plans to change the law high on the list of priorities.
Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said :“I fully support this campaign. That’s why I have directly asked the Ministry of Justice to look again at changing legislation. I have also written to the Secretary of State urging him to accelerate any plans Government has to bring about a change, as well as encouraging our local MPs to raise the issue in the House of Commons.
“By refusing to attend his sentencing, Thomas Cashman displayed just what a callous and despicable person he is, in direct contrast to the beautiful little girl he murdered and deprived of the rest of her life. His actions were an insult to Olivia’s memory and her family.
“Victims and families show incredible strength, often reliving their experiences in open court, individuals like Cashman should be made to face up to the abhorrent crimes they have committed.
“I will continue to lobby Government for a law change that will save future families from enduring this insult, whilst creating a lasting legacy for Olivia.”
Cheryl Korbel said :"It's a long time doing that impact statement and really hard.
"Then to turn up at court and he doesn't turn up.
"To go through the whole trial process, having been cocky because he thought he was going to get away with it which was annoying as well because as much as we wanted to react to that, we never. We stayed calm, dignified, it hurts.
"These offenders need to know the impact it's causing on the victims."
During this week's summit, the former Chief Prosecutor for the North West said changes needed to be made to take the power away from offenders.
Nazir Afzal said : "I've had the privilege of talking to hundreds of families and victims over the years , many of them tell me that that process of sentencing is the beginning of some kind of closure.
"It gives them a marker, a milestone which they need, to be able to see the person responsible for the harm they've suffered, is something that's really important to them.
"What several defendants have done over the years is simply just ignored that process and stayed either in the cells or never left prison in the first place in order to get to the court.
"It doesn't take a lot, it takes one line in the next victims bill that's going through parliament.
"I think we need to change the whole system. The whole system is about the criminal.
"It's called the criminal justice system and it should be the victim justice system."