Justice Agencies Letting Victims Down

An independent report by the Victims’ Commissioner, which has been published today, concludes that justice agencies are letting down the victims they are supposed to be safeguarding. Baroness Newlove described the results of her report as shocking.

Baroness Newlove took more than 200 victims’ experiences into account in producing the report, which contains performance assessments of every justice agency listed by the victims’ code.

The Victims’ Commissioner’s review is intended to be the first of a number of independent reviews looking into aspects of the justice system. It is not a positive start to the process, concluding that the agencies that are supposed to protect and ensure justice for victims are in fact letting them down seriously.

Of the 200+ victims consulted in order to produce the review, nearly three in every four were not happy with the service that justice agencies had provided. If they wanted to raise their issues with those agencies, they faced yet more difficulties. More than half said that the complaints process for the agency in question was hard to use.

In particular, Baroness Newlove said she was shocked at the number of victims who told her they had felt like they were being ignored. When they tried to raise complaints about the way they had been treated, many said they were left confused or their complaints were simply dismissed.

“All it takes,” Baroness Newlove said, “is basic human decency to explain to a victim, in a sensitive and timely way, why something has gone wrong and what they can do about it.”

The report sets out standards which, the Victims’ Commissioner feels, criminal justice agencies and the government should be expected to follow when they are dealing with victims of crime who have concerns. In particular, she feels that these bodies should:

  • Give clear information about the ways in which they are able to support victims who have concerns or who would like to raise complaints about a service.
  • Explain how the victim will be kept updated and informed on how their complaint is progressing at all stages of the process.
  • Use proper, clearly-defined recording practices and processes that are designed to ensure a proactive and appropriate approach in handling all victim complaints.
  • Publish data to demonstrate the ways in which their services have been improved as a result of acting on victim complaints.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling claims that significant improvements have already been made in the services and support that are given to victims. “But,”we are also the first to acknowledge that more can, and should, be done.”