This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What does a victim centric criminal justice system look like?

I have been mulling this morning on this question - which I also tweeted:

I had no responses. I have just posted it again and at the time of writing, one other tweeter has got back to me. I will post an analysis of what other responses I get later on.

Meanwhile, I have been doing some research:

There is the The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (produced by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform in 2005). There is this web guide to reporting crimes and getting compensation with links to other helpful sites (produced by DirectGov). There is also this Victims Charter and guide to the criminal justice system from the Republic of Ireland (produced by their Victims of Crime Office). There may be other documents too.

There are also the Five Promises to Victims and Witnesses that Victim Support has asked all elected PCC's to sign. So far most, but not all, PCCs have signed up to these promises.

All PCCs have had to swear an oath of office which I have reprinted below, with added highlight:
I [name] do hereby declare that I accept the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for [police area]. In making this declaration, I solemnly and sincerely promise that during my term of office:
  • I will serve all the people of [police area] in the office of Police and Crime Commissioner.
  • I will act with integrity and diligence in my role and, to the best of my ability, will execute the duties of my office to ensure that the police are able to cut crime and protect the public.
  • I will give a voice to the public, especially victims of crime, and work with other services to ensure the safety of the community and effective criminal justice.
  • I will take all steps within my power to ensure transparency of my decisions, so that I may be properly held to account by the public.
  • I will not interfere with the operational independence of police officers.
What would help me, and perhaps others too, is for there to be an easy way to compare one PCC / CJS area with another. Perhaps if we had something like this...?

This needs work naturally, not least that I am sure there are not the correct set of parameters and of course all the boxes are empty. If you would like to work with me on refining this tool, I have uploaded a copy to my Google Drive with the link to access it here. (You will be able to read it more easily there.) And if you want to co-draft this, then please email me and we can start a dialogue.

So back to my question:

What does a victim centric CJS look like?


  1. A victim centric CJS needs to start from the needs of victims of crime and from internationally agreed standards.
    In my book Rights for Victims of Crime, Rebalancing Justice, I provide you with a systematic analysis of the needs of victims of crime, a chapter that gives an overview of international standards (true prior to the EU directive), a chapter based in part on the IACP proposals to enhance law enforcement response to victims, chapters on services and reparation, and importantly a chapter on the role of the victim in the criminal justice process. The book also provides a model law that integrates all this into one place.
    I hope you will share this with your PCC´s and many more.

    1. And if people want to order your book, Irwin, they can do it from here, I understand:

      What would add to the framework I have given above. I would value your contribution to its completion...

  2. Usually, our concept of justice does not consider victims, however we often hear about a vengeful victim. Some people think that because the victim is angry about the harm caused to them they are vengeful. The notion that victims are vengeful is rampant throughout the system. Most victims simply say, “We only want justice”, but how does the victim define justice?

    In our traditional Justice System, justice is something that happens to the offender. Crimes are violations of law and the offender is brought before the courts and held accountable for the crime committed against society, or the breaking of the law. When the offender is apprehended, tried and sentenced society says, “Justice has been done” or “Hasn’t been done”, depending on the sentence. The only measurement of “justice” we have is the length or severity of the sentence. Justice is measured by what happens to the offender. What about from the victim's perspective? Has justice really been done? Why does it seem that some victims are not satisfied with the “justice” no matter how severe? Are they vengeful?

    Our present criminal justice process is a societal response to an offender which says, “You have violated the law and we will hold you accountable, punish you, and offer you services to help rehabilitate, reintegrate, and return you to the community as a productive member of society.” The victim is left on the outside saying, “What about me?” Victims of crime have no comparable societal response to them. There is no statement of community responsibility that says, “What happened to you was wrong and we will help you rebuild your life.” Victim's needs are rarely addressed, resulting in victims feeling re-victimized and alienated.

    So, what does justice look like from a victim's perspective? Think of the outpouring of support for victims of fires, earthquakes or floods. We see tremendous generosity, from individual acts of kindness to charitable giving. Neighbours help neighbours, people from all walks of life ask what they can do—what their contribution can be. It seems everyone can find a creative way to provide assistance. Imagine a Red Cross offering emergency assistance to any crime victim who needs it; a community where neighbours, church groups, and block associations offer support and comfort to crime victims in their communities; governments that make helping crime victims a priority. Imagine a society that felt that justice required no less.
    All of society will benefit when whole communities help victims of crime rebuild their lives. A truly just society helps those among us who have been harmed. That would be Restorative Justice from a victim’s perspective.

  3. When you are in a position for a criminal lawyer there are several things you need to consider before you begin your search. First you must understand that in order to find the right lawyer for your case you need to honesty tell people about your case. You may be embarrassed or reluctant to talk to people honestly about your crime. This is a common emotion and one that may be used against you in the process of finding a lawyer.

    Criminal Lawyer NY