The Victims' Commissioner publishes analysis of victimisation data in the Crime Survey for England and Wales

A report published today by the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, looks at victimisation data in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and finds growing dissatisfaction on the part of victims in how their cases are handled by the criminal justice system.

This report draws together the answers to questions asked of victims of crime and the general public about their views and experiences of the criminal justice system. Analysing CSEW data from the past five years shows a number of changes in people’s views and experiences during that period.

The findings show that some of the interaction between victims and those working in the criminal justice system is positive. For example, most of victims are satisfied with their initial contact with the police (72.6%), feeling they have been treated fairly (77.1%) and with respect (87.7%).

However, 1 in 3 (36.2%) victims are dissatisfied with the way the matter was handled by the Criminal Justice System, up from 29.7% just four years earlier.

More than a third (34.5%) were dissatisfied with the action the police took, an increase from 32% during the period. Worryingly, over half (52.2%) of victims don’t think the police kept them well informed about progress in the case, when the figure was 43.5% just four years earlier.

One in five (20.2%) victims did not report their crime (say the police didn’t come to know about the crime at all), at least in part, because they didn’t think the police would have bothered or been interested.

Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird says:

“2020 offers the potential to transform the victim landscape. The Domestic Abuse Bill is approaching its second reading, there is a consultation on refreshing the Victims’ Code of Practice and we have the promise of a “Victims’ Law” later in the year. Other changes include a commitment on the part of the government to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers.

“However, these figures show why it is so important for policymakers and service providers understand the reality of the victims’ lived experience of the criminal justice system. A failure to listen to these clear statements of concern from victims will be a missed opportunity. Poor experiences such as some recorded here will diminish the number of people willing to help the police and support cases to court.

“The most obvious and serious failing shown here – and one that is well-known to victim support charities – is a failure to keep victims informed on what is happening in their case and what to expect next. There is also a concern about police inaction and the expectation of victims that police will not be interested their crime.

“There has been a Victims Code for over a decade but most victims do not know it exists. It is not something people will read out of interest but it is vital that everyone is aware that there is one so that, if they become a victim or a witness, they can require the agencies to comply with it. How the new Code works and which agencies are assuring the entitlements and which are not has to be the subject of annual evaluation. Only by holding agencies properly fully to account can we be sure that they are giving victims the supported they deserve”

Read the full report.