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'Justice For All' - CJS White Paper published
The Executive Summary part 4
A better deal for victims, witnesses and communities
0.21 suffering is made worse. Support for victims in the UK remains consistently high by international standards and we have the most generous Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in Europe. The voluntary organisation, Victim Support, advises more than one and a half million victims a year and their support remains highly regarded. However, victim satisfaction with the police has gone down from 67% in 1994 to 58% in 2000. Many victims feel that the rights of those accused of a crime take precedence over theirs and have said that they have felt ‘left in the dark’, vulnerable, intimidated and frustrated.
0.22 We will put victims and witnesses at the heart of the CJS and ensure they see justice done more often and more quickly. We will support and inform them, and empower both victims and witnesses to give their best evidence in the most secure environment possible.
0.23 A modern CJS must also engage the wider public. We benefit from a strong civic tradition in this respect, with nearly 29,000 magistrates trying the vast majority of cases, and nearly 200,000 people serving on juries each year. There is also an enormous
resource of members of the community able and willing to help in the fight against crime in their neighbourhoods. For instance there are 160,000 local neighbourhood watch schemes and thousands of people involved in community projects to reduce crime.
0.24 We have already:
more than doubled funding for Victim Support since 1997;
banned defendants without legal representation cross-examining rape victims personally;
invested £11 million in the CPS to communicate prosecution decisions directly to victims; and
established the Community Legal Service which is now available to over 99% of the people of England and Wales.
0.25 We propose to:
legislate to entitle victims of mentally disordered offenders to the same information about release and management of these offenders as victims of other crime;
establish a Victims’ Commissioner, supported by a new National Victims Advisory Panel;
appoint victim liaison officers to join Youth Offending Teams (YOTs), as resources become available;
introduce more measures for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses, such as screens, pre-recorded video evidence and TV links;
extend specialised support for victims of road traffic incidents and their families;
reduce exemptions from jury service so that more people serve; and
codify the criminal law to make it accessible to everyone.
Joining up the CJS
0.26 We must bring the component parts of the CJS together to form a coherent whole. When things are not sufficiently joined up case management is less efficient than it ought to be; information is not up to date and accessible, performance is not measured in a meaningful fashion; and structures of accountability are blurred. At worst, offenders get away with their crimes or are given inappropriate sentences, which fail to stop reoffending.
0.27 More work remains to be done to join up criminal justice agencies. It requires linking up the targets, delivery objectives, strategic plans, IT systems and the daily work of every individual working in each criminal justice agency. We have greatly strengthened measures for managing the performance of the CJS in order to improve service delivery. We are cutting out duplication, rationalising administrative and decision making processes and replacing complicated reporting structures with clean lines of accountability.
0.28 We have already:
established a Cabinet Committee chaired by the Home Secretary, including the Lord Chancellor and Attorney General to ensure a coherent approach to CJS reform;
appointed a Minister for Justice Systems Information Technology, who will chair a new ministerial sub-committee with oversight of the delivery of IT across the CJS and its effective coordination; and
established a new Criminal Justice IT organisation.
0.29 We propose to:
invest over £600 million over the next 3 years in case management IT across the CJS;
establish a new National Criminal Justice Board (to replace the existing Strategic Board) chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office, including the Permanent Secretary of the Lord Chancellor’s Department, Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Executives of CJS agencies, the President of ACPO and a senior judge. It will support the new Cabinet Committee and be responsible for overall CJS delivery;
establish a Criminal Justice Council that will improve on current consultative mechanisms;
set up 42 local Criminal Justice Boards in 2002-3, accountable to the new National Criminal Justice Board, with accompanying advisory and consultative machinery;
ensure all CJS professionals will be able to securely email each other by 2003;
ensure all CJS organisations will be able to exchange case file information electronically by 2005; and
ensure victims will begin to be able to track the progress of their case online by 2005.
If you would like to contact someone regarding this report or would like to give us your views on the issues raised go to our contacts / feedback page for further information. There is the facility to post your views on line concerning some of the proposed major changes.
by poesy on Monday, September 16, 2002