Essay delivering justice to the victim

Submitted By chevandgav
Words: 2743
Pages: 11

The aim of this assignment is to critically examine the position of the victim and to establish how affective the criminal justice system is in England and wales is in delivering justice for victims of crime. The researcher will look at the role of governmental interests in founding victim focused policies and the route of their engagement, at the centre of the criminal justice system. In order to determine if the position of the victim is at the heart of the criminal justice system the researcher will discuss the nature of the criminal justice system and its connections to the victim as well as looking at historical perspectives of victim roles.
The concept of the criminal justice system is not static and can be constructed depending upon social, religious and moral beliefs. In the UK the purpose of the criminal justice system is to uphold social control, deter and mitigate crime by sanctioning those who violate laws (Davies et all,2005). The criminal justice system is an adversarial system in which is often perceived from a good versus evil perspective or the oppressor against the oppressed Ashworth (1993). The system goals are traditionally based to act justly and protect the innocent. (Zedner, 2004), Each individual agency that works with the criminal justice system has its own specific aims but there are also certain goals that run through the whole system these are; Public protection, Justice and the rule of law, Public order, Punishment, Denunciation, Victim services and public confidence. Agencies prioritise the goals depending upon their place within the system, these may also change with a change in practices and principles. (Home Office, 2005)
“Historically the victim was often described as ‘the forgotten man’ of the criminal justice system”(Shapland et al, 1985: 1). For over two centuries the victim was squeezed out of the adversarial context and had no rights and therefore could not rise to the level of the of the defendant.(Goodey,2005) Many victims of crime found their experiences of the criminal justice system traumatic and this caused huge increases in unreported crime and a general loss of faith in the system, causing victims to be un-cooperative. Recidivism rates continued to rise and people became more aware that the criminal justice system was not serving its correct purpose and failing the individuals it was designed to protect (Zedner,2004). Throughout the 1970’s various victim groups began to form followed by a transformation of the criminal justice system as a whole and crime being controlled with a focus of the victim. (Garland,2001) This move instigated as numerous organisations aimed to restore the criminal justice system's insufficient treatment towards victims of crime.' As the movement matured, these organisations started to promote legislation regarding the plight of the victim. (Cavadino&Dignan,1996) This shift suggests that through policies and legislation the victim has moved from a position of being ignored with the criminal justice process to being what now appears to be the core focus.

Recently there have been a number of positive steps taken by the government towards meeting the needs of the victims. The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 contains measures to help young and vulnerable witnesses give evidence by using things such as television links so that the victim does not have to come in to contact with the perpetrator. (Victim Support,2003)The execution of these special measures is however fractured and these measures are discretionary no matter what the circumstances they must be applied for through the courts,all agencies have a role to play but situations still arise when the victim arrives at court with no clear knowledge of what protection they are entitled to when giving evidence.(Walkgate,2005) The Protection of Harassment Act 1997 was another positive step and arose from a concern regarding stalking, the act created two criminal offences and granted the…