More than half of victims of crime say they have had either had a poor or very poor overall experience of the criminal justice system.
The “Strengthening the Criminal Justice System for Victims” survey preliminary results shows that 57% of those surveyed had a negative view of their experience, with only 11% saying their experience was positive. A further 22% described their experience as average.
Over 600 people participated in the survey; and about 550 said they had experienced a crime.
Kim McGregor, the Chief Victims Advisor to the Government, presented the preliminary results to 160 victim advocates and experts at a workshop in Wellington.
Letting victims down
Dr McGregor says the common theme of the responses are that the criminal justice system is letting victims down.
“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 percent of people said that they either had a poor or very poor overall experience of the criminal justice system while a further 22 percent said they had an average experience.
“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.”
In response to the question: ‘Victims have enough information and support (not including family and friends) throughout the justice process’: 78% disagreed.
The survey also asked whether respondents agreed that victims’ views, concerns and needs are listened to, with 76% disagreeing.
And asked whether the criminal justice system is safe for victims, 82% said it wasn’t.
More needs to be done, admits minister
Minister of Justice Andrew Little told the audience one of the events that proved to him that more needs to be done for victims, was the coroner’s report on the inquest into the death of Christie Marceau, who was killed by Akshay Chand. At the time Mr Chand was out on bail on several charges, including kidnap.
“It is clear that Christie was not only the victim of the heinous act of the young man who took her life, but of a system that failed to ensure the right information was available at the right time that might have meant she could have been kept safe. Her voice should have been heard early in the decision-making about the man who attacked her.”
Mr Little admitted that the needs of victims have been overlooked.
“It is time to do better for victims and survivors of crime. It is time to accept that supporting victims of crime and making a place for victims and survivors of crime in our justice system does not have to come at the expense of the various rules and safeguards we have built up for offenders.”
The Ministry of Justice says the findings of the survey and the messages heard at the workshop will establish a pathway forward and help to inform recommendations for reform for the Government.