Criminal justice inspectorates publish their first annual compendium of findings on the quality of service provided to victims of crime in England and Wales

This is the first compendium of findings on the quality of services provided to victims by agencies within the criminal justice system (CJS). The information has been replicated from across the full range of individual inspectorate and criminal justice joint inspection (CJJI) reports published during the selected period (April 2014 to July 2015).

Read the report on the Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorates website

Meeting the needs of victims in the criminal justice system: A consolidated report by the criminal justice inspectorates

The quality of the victim experience within the CJS is an underpinning focus for all CJJI work, and features prominently in many of the individual inspectorate programmes. As a result, over the reporting period this issue has been examined through the prism of:

  • different types of crime;
  • different types of victim (in terms of age, for instance, or vulnerability); and
  • different geographical locations (with some inspections examining practice in a single county, while others visited every police force area in England and Wales).

This variety is both an advantage and disadvantage to this current piece of work. It is an advantage, because it places a spotlight on important elements of often very different victims’ journeys through the CJS, allowing a focus on areas of particular risk or concern. However, it is also a disadvantage because it does not result in comprehensive coverage of a victim’s end-to-end journey through the criminal justice system, which makes it difficult to make clear statements about the quality of victim services as a whole.

This overall coverage will be improved in future, as chief inspectors build on the findings of this report, and identify where further scrutiny can best be targeted.

Principal findings

Despite the incomplete coverage in this first year, some things are clear:

  • there were excellent individual examples of good practice across criminal justice sectors, and geographically across England and Wales, with dedicated staff putting the needs of victims first, and creative programmes and initiatives to ensure they get the best possible support;
  • particular strengths were evident in terms of specialist teams – who were generally highly motivated and well trained – and in the widespread use of restorative programmes; but
  • there were unacceptable inconsistencies in the service provided to victims – depending on the type of offence, where they lived or the degree to which local policies support and reinforce service provision. Given that the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Code) provides a standard which should transcend all these variables, there is clearly more work to do.

At the time of these reports, there were also particular concerns around crimes not being recorded, the lack of empathy shown by some professionals to some categories of victim, and the inconsistent provision of accurate and timely updates during the victim’s journey through the CJS.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor, on behalf of the Criminal Justice Chief Inspectors Group, said:

“Chief inspectors remain committed to reporting and supporting the promotion of victims’ rights across the CJS. This statement will, year-on-year, help to evidence how successfully agencies are providing all victims with the services to which they are entitled, and which they deserve.”