Victims of Crime Failed by Criminal Justice System

(Article courtesy of http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news)

Members of the public have little confidence in the criminal justice system and feel the rights of the accused outweigh their own, a new survey suggests.

National charity Victim Support reveals the extent of discontent with the system among recent victims of crime in its latest audit of the system, published today.

It was found that people’s satisfaction and confidence in the system dropped in every measure once they came into contact with it.

Just over a third of the general public felt victims’ needs were met during the justice process, compared with 80% who felt the rights of the accused were protected.

The charity also highlighted research that found just 1% of total justice spending goes towards supporting victims.

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said the overall picture was a product of ‘years of neglect and misunderstanding of victims’ needs’.

He added: ‘It is clear that criminal justice agencies need to do more to meet the needs of victims and witnesses.‘

Every year we offer help and support to over one million people affected by crime which helps improve their confidence in the justice system. Yet all too often when they come into contact with the system they are dissatisfied and lose confidence.’

Speed and efficiency of the court system was identified as a key factor in addressing victims’ frustrations. Just two out of every five trials in magistrates’ and Crown courts going ahead effectively on the day as scheduled.

There were also large regional variations in the workings of the court system, with just one in three trials starting as planned and reaching a conclusion in the north and West Yorkshire, compared with one in two in Avon and Somerset.

Victim Support wants those called as witnesses to court to be better informed about the progress of the case and all victims to be offered the chance to make a personal victim statement.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the department had contributed £50m to the victims voluntary sector this year, despite spending cuts elsewhere.

He added: ‘The government is determined to provide the best support for the most seriously affected, vulnerable and persistently targeted victims of crime.

‘We are currently reviewing all victims services to ensure that those affected by crime are supported in the best way possible, and will be making an announcement shortly.’