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Victim support and the criminal justice system - Essay Example

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Victim Support and the Criminal Justice System Introduction This paper will argue that the current approach of the government to victim support is severely lacking, despite recognitions that improvements need to be made. While report after report promises to improve services provided to victims, reality shows that this is not actually the case…
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Victim support and the criminal justice system
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Download file to see previous pages Previous Governmental Approaches to Victim Support Over the years, the government has created a great deal of reports on the issue of victim support particularly in relation to domestic violence. The main aim of its 2003 report stated that it was “determined to prevent domestic violence happening...and to protect and support all victims”.1 As the years have passed, governmental approaches towards victim support have recognised that victims need to be given greater access to and degrees of support, yet this has so far failed to be implemented. It is evident however that the government’s focus on making “the sentence reflect the crime”2 has caused it to place more focus on the offender’s punishment rather than the victim’s need for support. This is particularly the case in instances of domestic violence. Endless references have been made which recognise the need to support victims in order that they be given help to “rebuild their lives”,3 yet interest in and focus on this need has been sporadic and never a central aim of the government in the past. However, 2009 saw a renewed need to support women and girls who were victims of domestic violence in particular, and the government once again quoted an onslaught of promising plans and strategies to increase access to support, advice and services.4 Arguably, these were never properly implemented, or were applied in a piecemeal fashion, causing support for victims to be patchy and incomplete at best. The approach of the government has certainly not been without its critics; it has been often commented that years after plans were published, they still have yet to be properly implemented in order to provide the support that victims so evidently need.5 There is evident focus placed on the criminal justice aspect of crime, which greatly derogates attention from providing victims with the requisite support. Indeed, it is often claimed that the government has missed the point in attempting to support victims,6 a result of its mistaken assumption that “the criminal justice system alone can deal adequately” with victims of crime.7 The reality of proposals and plans is greatly different from the theoretical promises of those plans; funds have been pumped into arresting offenders while victim support services took a step back due to lack of funding and importance. For example, despite research proving that refuges for victims has a major positive effect, minimal funding was assigned to the creation and maintenance of refuges for victims of domestic violence in particular.8 There is blinding evidence that funding has been improperly directed towards offenders rather than victims; promises to increase the number of Rape Crisis centres have actually resulted in many centres being closed down due to major underfunding.9 The government has placed much focus on and investment in convicting offenders, while studies show that over 90% of victims who were given access to shelters felt that they had majorly improved access to safety.10 The acts of the government and its plans and promises have simply not be implemented in reality: victims still stand in the shadow of inappropriate focus placed on offenders and criminal justice.11 There is little doubt that the approach of the government has been unorganised, unstructured and incomplete, despite reports recognising that it should be the complete opposite.12 Such failure on the part of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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