One quarter of crime victims are dissatisfied with the way the criminal justice system has treated them, a Home Office minister said yesterday.
Fiona MacTaggart said that although the Government had trebled the amount spent on the charity Victim Support since Labour came into power there was still "a lot left to do".
The self-dubbed "Victims' Minister" revealed that a previously unpublished Mori poll conducted last month showed 25 per cent of crime victims were unhappy with their experience of the criminal justice system.
She told Victim Support's annual conference, held at Warwick University, that she blamed this partly on the fact that victims were dealt with too slowly and had to repeatedly explain the crime they had suffered.
She said: "We in Government haven't done enough to make a victim's encounter with the criminal justice system a seamless experience.
"We need to figure out how to make services for victims come together and look at the experience from the victim's end of the telescope.
"Victims shouldn't have to re-explain what they have been through so many times. The system should flow more easily.
"The criminal justice system can make things worse for victims and many of them believe that no-one is on their side. That has to change so that victims can be empowered by the courts system, not disempowered by it."
She told about 400 delegates from Victim Support groups across the country that there should be "fast-track" help for vulnerable victims and those who had suffered repeated offences.
"The speed of initial contact makes a massive difference. Some victims have to pay for taxis, for example, because a defendant has broken their leg. These are immediate costs to them that are only much later compensated for," she said.
However, victims' satisfaction had increased in the last three years because they were now able to give evidence by video or behind a screen, she explained.
Andrew Buckingham, from Victim Support's London headquarters, said the experience of crime victims would be improved if barristers' questioned them less aggressively in court.
He said: "Robust questioning does have its place and many victims and witnesses of perform well when adrenaline flows.
"However, victims and witnesses are not on trial. They have been, in many cases, in the wrong place at the wrong time and are doing their civic duty by appearing in court.
"They should not be subject to aggressive hectoring by barristers. It is unfair and discourages them from engaging with the criminal justice system another time.
"We at Victim Support know of witnesses who say they are reluctant to appear in court again because of the aggressive questioning they have faced.
"We must make sure that victims and witnesses who appear in court are treated with respect and are thanked for their contribution.
"That way they will go away with the impression that they been valued by the criminal justice system."
He said the impact of even the most minor crimes could have financial, practical and long- term psychological effects on victims.
He said: "More than half of all victims don't get access to the criminal justice system because they don't report the crime they have been subjected to.
"And those that do are often not given information about how they can be helped. The common perception of crime victims is that the criminal justice system is more effective at dealing with offenders than victims."