Our criminal justice system is broken

Victim's Commissioner, Angela Sarkis presents her report at Wotton Hall Police HQ, Northampton.
Victim's Commissioner, Angela Sarkis presents her report at Wotton Hall Police HQ, Northampton.

The criminal justice system is ‘broken’ and stuck in the previous century, it has been claimed following the publication of a report into the treatment of victims of crime in the county.

The claim comes from the county’s police and crime commissioner, Adam Simmonds, following the publication of the Victims’ Voice report.

The report was undertaken last year to help create a series of recommendations that will help improve the service victims and witnesses receive in the criminal justice system.

Mr Simmonds said that the system and its processes are stuck in the previous century.

He added: “I think the system has failed individuals collectively and I think we need to do more.

“I need to have more confidence that even if I dial 999 the system would work.

“We can’t have a system that fails for one and succeeds for another, it has to work entirely for everybody.”

The UK’s first victims’ commission was launched in Northamptonshire in April, with the aim of giving the victim a voice.

The new commission, which has been led by Angela Sarkis, has investigated the police and criminal justice system in the county.

The initiative is the first of its kind in England and Wales, and Ms Sarkis gathered information from more than 1,000 victims and witnesses of crime, and from agencies that work within the criminal justice system.

She said the report includes a number of first person accounts that highlight how the system has failed victims.

She added: “A lot of the victims and witnesses we spoke to actually didn’t know how to properly report that they were victims.”

The report put forward a number of recommendations for the police, and agencies working within the criminal justice system, such as the probation service, and the Crown Prosecution Service, to help improve the experience of victims and witnesses.

Ms Sarkis said she expects work to begin straight away on the recommendations but has confidence that things can change.

What the report recommends

The Victims’ Voice report has put forward a number of recommendations to help improve the experience within the criminal justice system for victims and witnesses of crime.

Angela Sarkis, the Victims’ Commissioner’s recommendations include a creation of a new victim and witness service, extra specialist training for officers dealing with sex offences, and a one-stop shop for the victims of anti-social behaviour.

She added that agencies need to work together to ensure the victim is not lost in the system.

A number of quick remedies also need to be taken, such as the provision of easily accessible information for victims and witnesses on the police website, and ensuring the 101 number has an option to report crime on it.

Ms Sarkis said she is confident the quick remedies will be implemented fast, but the agency recommendations need to be worked on over time.