The Victims’ Commissioner’s office is conducting a series of reviews into services that criminal justice agencies provide to victims to secure positive change for those affected by crime.
We will be speaking with all the criminal justices agencies listed in the Victims’ Code of Practice but most crucially, we want to hear about victims’ experiences and how they feel about the service they receive.
If you would like to read the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner’s privacy notice for our research reviews then please click here to read it on our website.
Entitlements and experiences of victims of mentally disordered offenders.
This report calls for victims of mentally disordered offenders (MDOs) to be given the same rights as all other crime victims.
The trauma and distress experienced by victims of serious sexual and violent crime, including homicide, are the same irrespective of the status of their offender. As such, it would seem only right that victims of all such crimes should receive the same level of support and the same entitlements. Entitlements under the Victims Code are intended to provide support for victims throughout their criminal justice journey and in turn, help them to cope and recover.
The report is based on a review of relevant policy and the experiences of nine bereaved victims of homicide, where the crimes were perpetrated by mentally disordered offenders. The report concludes that the current position does not offer equal treatment to these victims. Instead, the current position makes a distinction between victims whose offenders are serving prison sentences and those who are patients detained in mental health hospitals. There is yet further distinction made between the victims of “restricted” and “unrestricted” patients. Whilst these distinctions are based upon the status of the offender, the result is a disparity of treatment for the victim.
The report was published in August 2018.
Are victims satisfied? Part two. A scoping review on the measurement and monitoring of victims’ satisfaction with Police and Crime Commissioner funded support services.
This scoping review explores how Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) measure, monitor and use victim satisfaction feedback to inform and improve service design and delivery.
Based on the thematic analysis of 21 PCC survey responses, the review found that most participating PCCs were collecting and using victim feedback to help improve support services for victims in their local areas.
As the Ministry of Justice introduces its new reporting requirement for PCCs, a framework which focuses on outcomes (e.g. to what extent a service has helped victims to cope and recover from the effects of the crime they experienced) and outputs (e.g. number of referrals); this review concludes that victim satisfaction feedback remains an important temperature check of how victim support services are working. The Victims’ Commissioner therefore makes four recommendations to encourage the continuation and improvement of satisfaction monitoring among PCCs.
This is the second report in a two-part series. It follows the scoping review published last year which looked at victim satisfaction measurement and monitoring among police forces in England and Wales.
The scoping review was published in June 2018.
A Voice for the Voiceless: The Victims’ Commissioner’s review into the provision of Registered Intermediaries for children and vulnerable victims and witnesses.
Registered Intermediaries (RIs) are specialists in communication provided to children and vulnerable victims to enable them to have a voice in the criminal justice system.
This review considers the whole operation of the Witness Intermediary Scheme which is responsible for the provision of RIs as set out in the entitlements under the Victims’ Code.
Findings indicate that not all eligible vulnerable victims and witnesses are being offered a RI, there is inconsistent take-up of RIs across England and Wales, limited understanding of the role in the criminal justice system and variation in how vulnerability and eligibility for RIs is assessed.
Many RIs who took part in the review identified wide ranging deficiencies in the operation of the Witness Intermediary Scheme. Their concerns covered managerial support, training, mentoring, continuing professional development, quality assurance, supervision and late payments.
In the review the Victims’ Commissioner puts forward a number of recommendations to improve the provision of RIs. Recommendations include the development of a centralised national RI service with a national lead RI to feed into the policy and practice in the provision of RIs, and to represent RIs’ interests across the criminal justice system, as well as a fast track service for the youngest and most vulnerable of victims.
Analysis of the offer and take-up of Victim Personal Statements, April 2013 to March 2017
Victim Personal Statements (VPS) are an entitlement that enables victims to make a statement expressing how they have been affected by a crime.
This is the third review looking at VPS data available from the Crime Survey for England and Wales. It looks at the 12 months ending March 2017, and compares this data to previous years starting from 2013-14.
It finds that few victims are offered the opportunity to make a VPS, and there has been little change over the last four years. Most victims who make a VPS, however, feel that it has been taken into account by the Criminal Justice System. There also remains variation in terms of the offer of VPSs across demographic groups and by offence characteristics.
The report was published in November 2017.
Are Victims Satisfied? Measurement and Monitoring of Victims’ Satisfaction with the Police
This scoping review looks at the way in which police forces currently measure and monitor victims’ satisfaction with the police. It examines how this data is used to develop and improve services for victims. Since April 2017, the Home Office no longer requires police forces to collect victim satisfaction data as part of the mandatory Annual Data Requirement. This scoping review looks at how police forces plan to measure victim satisfaction following this decision.
Responses from the 24 participating police forces suggest there is good practice across the country in how victims’ satisfaction is measured and in how that data is used to improve services for victims. All 24 forces plan to continue to collect victims’ views in line with their policing priorities, though it is not clear whether all police forces will do so now that it is not a mandatory requirement.
The review was published in August 2017 and is available here:
Are we getting it right for young victims of crime? A review of Children’s entitlements in the Victims’ Code
This review investigated the treatment of children and young victims of crime by criminal justice agencies. It found that these agencies were at risk of failing children and young people who come forward to report crimes because they were not being taken seriously or not believed by the police, social workers, teachers or by society as a whole. The Victims’ Commissioner called on the government to conduct further research into how best to support children and vulnerable victims of crime.
The review was published in February 2017 and can be accessed here:
Victim Inequality in the Offer of Victim Personal Statements (2017)
This review assessed the demographic breakdown of victims who make a Victim Personal Statement for the 12 months ending March 2016. It revealed that less than one in five victims was offered the chance to make a Victim Personal Statement for court hearings; and that some groups of victims had an even greater chance of being disadvantaged.
The report was published in January 2017 and can be accessed here:
A question of quality: A review of Restorative Justice Part 2 – victims
This review assessed the quality of Restorative Justice services, according to the victims’ experience. It found that the reason many victims participated in Restorative Justice was to help the offender and aide their rehabilitation. However, the proportion of victims offered the opportunity to participate in Restorative Justice has fallen significantly, in 2015-16 only 4.2 per cent of all victims of crime were offered the opportunity to meet with their offender.
The report was published in November 2016 and can be accessed here:
What works in supporting victims of crime: A rapid evidence assessment
This review collated the international evidence on what works to support victims as they journey through the criminal justice system and beyond. It provided an assessment on the provisions that should be in place in order to deliver a beneficial service for victims.
The report was published in March 2016 and can be accessed here:
A question of quality: A review of Restorative Justice Part 1 – service providers
This review focussed on what constitutes a quality Restorative Justice service. It found that even though there is a low uptake of Restorative Justice, it allows service providers to offer a ‘bespoke’ service for victims.
The report was published in March 2016 and can be accessed here:
Victim Inequality in the Offer of Victim Personal Statements (2016)
A follow up report to the Silenced Victim in January 2016 provided a demographic breakdown of victims who make a Victim Personal Statement for the 12 months ending March 2015. It revealed that there is a victim inequality and that some victims are being disadvantaged because of where they live, their age, race and long-term health conditions.
The report can be accessed here:
The silenced victim – A review of the Victim Personal Statement
This review focussed on how criminal justice agencies and partners involved in the Victim Personal Statement process deliver their obligations and what victims say they are experiencing. It found that even though victims, judges, magistrates and Parole Board members valued the VPS, over 60 per cent of victims reported that they had not been offered the opportunity to make one.
The report was published in November 2015 and can be accessed here:
A review of complaints and resolution for victims of crime
This review focused on the ways in which agencies allow or help victims of crime to make a complaint about their experience or treatment. It included our findings on what works well and where agencies need to make improvements.
The report was published in January 2015 and can be accessed here: