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Victims' families 'need protection in court'

The relatives of murder victims should be able to give evidence in private to reduce the trauma of reliving their ordeal in court, the Government's victims' commissioner said last night.

Louise Casey said the criminal justice system treated the super-rich better than ordinary families whose lives were torn apart when a loved one was killed. She published a detailed set of proposals, including the creation of a "victims' law" designed to give extra help and protection to bereaved families.

Ms Casey said family members had few rights, limited ways of complaining, and were often told little about how a prosecution was proceeding.

In a report presented to Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, she called for a new law, which would include the release of a body back to the family within 28 days except in exceptional circumstances.

Her other suggestions to help victims' families included giving them the right to be allocated a social worker to advise on such issues as child care and housing; have regular counselling; and receive full written transcripts of court proceedings.

Mr Clarke said: "We are working on our review of all victim support arrangements – this will include consideration of victims' services, entitlements and redress, designed to ensure that that our time, money and best efforts are targeted at those in greatest need."