New report examines care and treatment of victims and witnesses

CJI’s latest inspection report has looked at how victims and witnesses are treated by the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. Victims and Witnesses inspection Key Facts.

The report which focused on the experience of the victim or witness recognises the progress made since CJI first looked at the issue 14 years ago, but also highlighted there is still more to do to ensure services were delivered to a consistent, quality standard that met individual needs.

“We found evidence of dedicated individuals from across the criminal justice system and the voluntary sector working to identify personal needs and provide meaningful support to children and adults who were both victims and witnesses, during a very difficult time in their lives,” said Chief Inspector Jacqui Durkin.

“Each victim and witness in the criminal justice system has their own personal journey and individual needs. They need to be listened to and they need to believe they have been heard. Providing services and support tailored to their requirements goes hand in hand with ensuring that victims and witnesses get the personal help they need, so they are better supported to give their evidence and contribute to the often long process to bring offenders to justice.”
Ms Durkin said that when the criminal justice system failed to do this, it had a negative impact on public confidence in the justice system and could deter victims from reporting crime, which in turn enabled perpetrators to go on to commit further offences creating more victims. 

“The current pandemic has resulted in further delays to court hearings and trials and it is vital that victims and witnesses are kept informed and engaged to enable them to give their evidence and support prosecutions. 

“The four strategic and 12 operational recommendations included in this report will, if implemented, support the continued development of better services to help all victims and witnesses,” said the Chief Inspector.