Victims are losing trust in the criminal justice system, as more than a third say they would not report a crime to the police again because of their experience, research by the victims’ commissioner will reveal on Wednesday.
Police inaction, lack of information about the progress of cases and lengthy court delays contributed to 34 per cent of victims saying they would not report their crime to police again.
Only 44 per cent of the 428 victims who participated in the research said they would report their offence to the police if it was repeated. Just over a fifth (22 per cent) did not express a view.
The findings will be published on Wednesday by the new victims’ commissioner Baroness Newlove who will say the research represents a “wake-up call for all those involved in the criminal justice system”.
She will say the data is “deeply concerning” and that it “must not be shrugged off” by police, prosecutors, courts and ministers. “When victims lose trust in the system, they are less likely to report crime,” she will say.
The victim said they felt ‘violated’
Victims complained that police did not listen to them and they were left feeling that too little had been done to investigate their crimes and prosecute offenders. Charging rates in England and Wales have more than halved from 15.5 per cent of all offences eight years ago to below six per cent now.
One victim told the researchers that the police took nine months to contact them and then investigate their case. They said there were too many officers who passed their case from one to the next, such that the victim said they felt “violated”.
Previous research has suggested as many as 66 per cent said they had to wait too long for their cases to come to court and more than 80 per cent said they did not have confidence in the effectiveness of the Crown Prosecution Service to bring the offender to justice.
The researchers said the findings were an indication of the problems faced by victims. A bigger survey of 3,000 victims has now been commissioned by Baroness Newlove to provide a more comprehensive picture of the state of the criminal justice system in England and Wales from victims’ perspective.
It comes as the King’s Speech trailed the victims’ and prisoners’ bill, which is due to return to the Commons this week as one of the pieces of legislation prioritised by Rishi Sunak’s Government.
Punched and kicked to death
The bill will enshrine the victims’ code in law which gives victims of crime and their families’ rights to information, to be consulted and to have their voices heard.
Baroness Newlove will set out her views on what she expects from the legislation in a speech in the Lords on Wednesday but in an interview with The Daily Telegraph last week she said police, prosecutors, courts and Government needed to be more accountable for their actions.
“For example, the Secretary of State has announced the Crown Prosecution Service should meet victims,” she said. “What does that mean? Does that mean two minutes before the court case? Does that mean before going through the charging process? I want accountability and data collected so we can see whether it is working.”
Baroness Newlove held the post of victims’ commissioner from 2013 to 2019. She was appointed by David Cameron after campaigning on victims’ rights following the murder of her husband Garry who was punched and kicked to death after confronting a gang of drunken youths vandalising her car.
“I always said Garry would never be a statistic. No one in a court case or a trial is a statistic. They are human beings who have been damaged and expect the system to listen and treat them with dignity and respect,” she said.
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