Public Confidence Costs – Criminal Justice From a Victim’s Perspective

Published 13/10/2004
Type Article
Author(s) Jacki Tapley
Corresponding Authors Jacki Tapley, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth

This paper draws on evidence arising from three separate studies to illustrate the gap which currently exists between political rhetoric and the reality of victims’ experiences in relation to the stated aims of the government to improve the services and support provided to victims of crime. Recent years have seen a significant shift in criminal justice policy from an offender focused criminal justice system to an unprecedented focus on victims, evident in populist political soundbites and the announcements of numerous reforms. However, victims and witnesses remain dissatisfied, as reflected in declining public confidence in criminal justice agencies despite overall falling rates in crime. Acknowledging now that victims and witnesses are vital participants in the criminal justice process, this paper examines current government attempts to improve public confidence, with the responsibility now being placed upon local Criminal Justice Boards to improve services locally. Essentially, it concludes that if reforms are to be successful, they must be supported by sufficient resources and implemented within a framework that recognises the reciprocity of obligations by offering something back to the victims and witnesses who take part.