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The criminal justice system is failing victims of crime as it approaches breaking point.

Research reveals that police constantly fail to adhere to standard codes of practice, leaving many victims with no confidence in the justice system. The research comes as a result of crime figures in the UK stating that nearly half of all criminal investigations are closed with no suspects.

According to The Independent, 55% of victims surveyed said that police failed to meet their needs. However, only 25% of victims felt properly supported after reporting incidents. On the other hand, research undertaken by the Conversation indicates that this number could be as high as 90%.

Victims of serious crimes often wait in distress. Exclusive research shared with The Independent concludes that 52% of victims are not given the opportunity to make a personal statement. If a victim’s first experience with the police force is not positive, it may deter people from reporting future crimes.

In 2020, Sadiq Khan stated that nearly a quarter of a million victims in London are still waiting to have their cases heard in court. Covid-19 has only made this backlog worse. According to official reports, victims of crime in North Wales have a 7/10 chance that their trial will go ahead. However, this dramatically declines to 2/10 in Greater Manchester.

The victims’ code introduced in 2004 ensures that victims have a positive experience of the criminal justice system. It requires police to share details of progression and changes in victims’ cases. 

The British government spends £2 billion a year on the criminal justice system, but clearly this is not enough. This execrable underfunding needs to be addressed. In the last decade, government spending on the criminal justice system has fallen 26%. Between 2019-2020, the Ministry of Justice spent 25% less on prisons and courts than they did a decade prior.

This stretch on resources and spending has an impact on the quality of communication victims receive. These cuts make the victim feel alienated in their own cases – the system needs to do more. Solving these issues is only possible by increasing levels of funding. Focusing more on the victim rather than the perpetrator can also help solve this.

By Derry Salter

Cardiff University Journalism and Communications student. Intern for MMN.

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