The at a glance at the Criminal Justice

 

The criminal justice system
has a variety of different measures put in place to ensure the various needs of
victims in England and Wales are met. This essay will examine a handful of
these schemes and evaluate if they do in fact do enough to meet the emotional
and physical welfare of victims and witnesses during the criminal justice
process. Focussing closely on the effectiveness of new and old processes that
have been set up to protect victims from the effects of the crime.

Looking at a glance at the Criminal
Justice Inspection (Meeting the needs of victims within the criminal justice
system, 2015), it could be argued that the services put in place do enough to ensure
needs of victims of crime are met, for example the introduction of the ‘Track
My Crime’ app (Ministry of Justice, 2014). This technological development was
bought about by the high number if victims that felt as though they were in the
dark when it came to the prosecution of their perpetrator, which lessened their
trust in the criminal justice system. The main feature of this app is that it
allows the victim to follow the progression of the case, for example any
investigations or arrests that have occurred would be made available for them
so see.  Although recent studies have
shown that the app has made certain victims feel more involved with their case,
it must be noted that many still feel isolated by the lack of face to face
contact that has been replaced with the app. As before the police would most
likely visit the victims house to update them on proceedings, which allowed the
victims to ask questions, seek support and be referred to a victim support
worker if necessary. Which is now happening less and less due to the police’s
technological developments. 

 

Yet upon delving deeper into
the report, it was found that victims were often given little opportunity to
speak out about how they were affected by the crime committed against them. As
shown in the Victims Commissioner report (Office for national statistics,
2016), only 15% of victims were offered to write a Victim Personal Statement. A
victim’s personal statement allow the victim to explain how the crime affected
them personally, which many find therapeutic as they feel as though they are
valued within the criminal justice process (Victim personal statements: should

they affect the sentencing
process, 2011). Therefore, if victims are not asked to give a victim report
they may feel as though their own personal experience of the crime is not
important, thus loosing faith in the criminal justice system.

 

Aside from these failings, it
must be noted that recent developments within the victim support facilities
have led to the evolution of a much faster and more effective system called
‘Victim Support Plus’ (Sara Payne, Redefining justice, pg.17). This service
takes a maximum of 48 hours to analyse the emotional and physical needs of the
victim, and sets up a ‘package of support’ to support them throughout the
criminal justice process. This service works with many different institutions
such as the; police, NHS, social services and the housing association to ensure
that all the needs of the victim are being met, even after court proceedings
have taken place. As the treatment of victims improves, the likely hood that
others who were the targets of crime to step forward increases.

 

Although victims who are required
to give evidence receive support from the various institutions within the CJS, it
is evident that those who are not recognised as victims by the police during
investigation are offered little to no support. A crime may only have a handful
of direct victims, yet this creates a ripple effect and in turn effects even
more individuals. The victim’s family are rarely seen as victims at all, and
are therefore not offered the support they need, the Home Office found that 3
in 10 people who need support are not offered it (A strategic audit of the
criminal justice system, pg.9, 2011).  It
can also be seen that some groups of victims are classified as more vulnerable
than others, for example in domestic violence cases male victims are not seen
as being in as much danger as female victims, and are therefore offered less
protection. Even though 13.6 men in 2015/16 said that they had been a victim of
domestic violence compared to 20% of women, there is still far more outreach
programmes within the criminal justice system for female victims of domestic
abuse than there is for males.

It may not only be the fact
that the criminal justice sector not recognising some victims as vulnerable
that is the issue. Some victims themselves so not actually see themselves as
victims of crime, this is especially the case amongst young adults. This is
because many teenagers view crime against them as ‘part of growing up’ and as
normal. For example; theft, GBH, sexually assault and cyber bullying are all
normalised by teen culture and through the media. Therefore, many crimes
against youths are not reported, thus the victims of these crimes cannot gain
any support from victim support agencies as they do not classify themselves as
victims in the first place. In a 2003 study, 1 in 10 young adults said that they
had been victims of at least 5 crimes in the past year, and that they had not reported
most them (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2778255.stm
, 2003). this shows a significant failing within the criminal justice system, in
that there is not enough awareness surrounding how to report and be aware of crimes
going on around or against individuals.

In conclusion, there is a great
number of services available through the victim support sector of the criminal justice
system, all of which have improved greatly alongside the development of technology.
Yet there is still limited understanding amongst the public as to what classifies
someone as a victim, therefore many do not realise they are in fact entitled to
many programmes to help them overcome the trauma of the crime being committed against
them.