A Study of the Policies and Procedures Implemented by the Probation Service with Respect to Victims of Serious Crime

Published 11/06/2003
Type Article
Author(s) Emma Newton
Corresponding Authors Emma Newton, North Yorkshire Probation Service

Traditionally the probation service’s main function has been the rehabilitation and resettlement of offenders. It is only in recent times that the organisation has been required to work with victims of crime, a group that has traditionally been marginalised within the criminal justice system. With the introduction of the Victim’s Charter (Home Office, 1990) this requirement was to contact the victims, or the families of victims, of life sentence prisoners to give them information about the offender’s sentence, find out if they have any anxieties about the offender’s release, and to ask if they would like to request that certain conditions be placed on the offender’s licence. The requirement was extended in 1995 to include victims of serious violent or sexual offences where the offender is serving four years or more in prison, and again in April 2001 by Probation Circular 62/2001 to include ‘all victims of sexual and violent offenders sentenced to a custodial sentence of 12 months or more’ (National Probation Directorate, 2001).
This article appraises the extent to which the policies and procedures implemented with respect to victims (in two probation areas) help to decrease their marginalisation. It is suggested that this is dependant upon whether or not their needs are being met by the probation service, which in turn may be related to how well the different probation areas cope with the complex issues involved.