VICTIM CONTACT SCHEME – CLARIFICATION OF OFFENCE OF AGGRAVATED VEHICLE TAKING

PURPOSE
This PC requires that relevant staff note and comply with an administrative change to the victim contact arrangements in respect of the families of victims where an offender has been convicted of aggravated vehicle taking which results in a death.

Probation Circular
REFERENCE NO: 02/2005 ISSUE DATE: 4 January 2005 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: Immediate EXPIRY DATE: December 2009 TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Board Treasurers Regional Managers AUTHORISED BY: Liz Hill, Head of Public Protection and Courts Unit ATTACHED: N/A

ACTION
Chief Officers and Assistant Chief Officers (for victims) are asked to ensure that the circular is drawn to the attention of all relevant staff, who should note and adopt the contents with immediate effect.

SUMMARY
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 will introduce an objective definition of violent offence and refer to a list of offences. This list includes the offence of aggravated vehicle taking which results in a death under the Theft Act 1968. In preparation for the introduction of the Act and in order to clarify the position around this offence it has been agreed that probation area Victim Contact Teams should offer, on a discretionary basis, contact to families of victims where the offender was convicted of aggravated vehicle taking which resulted in a death.

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
PC62/2001

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES
Eleanor Marshall, Public Protection and Courts Unit, NPD – 020 7217 0670 Eleanor.marshall@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Laura McCaughan, Public Protection and Courts Unit, NPD – 020 7217 0639 Laura.mccaughan@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

National Probation Directorate
Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW General Enquiries: 020 7217 0659 Fax: 020 7217 0660

Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection

BACKGROUND
1. The statutory duty to inform and consult victims of a serious sexual or violent offence where an offender is sentenced to a custodial sentence of 12 months or more is set out in Section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (CJCSA). The national guidance to the probation service is set out in PC62/2001. The guidance includes, at Appendix A, a subjective definition of a violent offence and a list of offences which may be considered as falling within this definition. Included in this list is the offence of ‘causing death by aggravated vehicle taking’ under Section 12a of the Theft Act 1968. A recent case has highlighted that drawing a distinction between ‘aggravated vehicle taking’ and ‘causing death by aggravated vehicle’ is incorrect in law since there is only an offence of aggravated vehicle taking under the Theft Act 1968. The case has also highlighted that there is no clear consensus as to whether aggravated vehicle taking is a violent offence since it is not the taking of the vehicle which causes death but the driving which follows on from the taking. The effect of this is that it may not be clear to probation area Victim Contact teams which cases fall within the statutory duty for victim contact. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 contains an objective definition of a violent offence and lists relevant offences (at Schedule 15 of the Act). This list includes the offence of aggravated vehicle taking but only in circumstances where it involves ‘an accident which caused the death of any person’. Although this Part of the 2003 Act has not yet been brought into force by Parliament, the Home Office has agreed that in order to clarify the uncertainties described in paragraph 2 above, probation areas should, with immediate effect, administratively replicate the position which will exist when the relevant part of the CJA 2003 is commenced. In essence this means that area Victim Contact Teams should, from 1 January 2005, offer contact to the victims of offenders convicted of aggravated vehicle taking which results in a death as if a statutory duty existed. When the CJA 2003 comes into force the probation service will, in law, have a statutory duty to contact the victims in these cases. However, as this circular puts in place an administrative procedure in advance of commencement of the relevant legislation it is considered a discretionary rather than statutory duty. Probation areas should record and monitor their work with victims in these cases using the national victims monitoring form, in the same way as cases where a statutory duty already exists.

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PC02/2005 – Victim Contact Scheme – Clarification of Offence of Aggravated Vehicle Taking

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