The common theme of responses to a new survey is that the criminal justice system is, more often than not, letting victims down says Dr Kim McGregor, the Chief Victims Advisor to the Government.
Over 600 people participated in the Strengthening the Criminal Justice System for Victims Survey. The survey was an opportunity for victims of crime to share their views on the criminal justice system, what works and what doesn’t, and how they believe it can be improved. Dr McGregor has been asked to lead this area of work by the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, as part of the Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata Safe and Effective Justice criminal justice reform programme.
"Almost every day I hear complaints from victim advocates about victims not feeling supported, believed, or listened to and the victims voices we are hearing from the survey are telling us the same thing," says Dr McGregor.
"Fifty seven per cent of people said that they either had a poor or very poor overall experience of the criminal justice system while a further twenty two percent said they had an average experience.
"Respondents noted that victims need to be at the centre of the justice system, and we need to ensure that they are supported and considered throughout the process. They often felt that there needed to be more opportunities for victims to have their say throughout the criminal justice process and that perpetrators of crime seemed to have more rights than them.
"There is still a long way to go to provide victims with the support and guidance they need when navigating the criminal justice system. I am very grateful to those who have shared their voices, views and stories and I recognise the bravery that it took to share that with us."
Dr McGregor presented the preliminary results of the survey today to 160 victim advocates and a range of experts in the victims’/survivors’ community at the Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata Safe and Effective Justice: Strengthening the Criminal Justice System for Victims workshop in Wellington. The survey and the workshop are two of the methods being used to ensure the voices of victims/survivors are at the centre of the criminal justice reform programme and will inform Dr McGregor’s recommendations to the Government on how the criminal justice system can be improved for victims.
The Chief Victims Advisor quantitative research complements separate qualitative research conducted by Victim Support, also released today.