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Victims of Crime by Matthew Hall

By Matthew Hall

Over the past thirty years, sufferers of crime became a staple subject of media curiosity and policy-making discourse.Drawing on an intensive programme of first-hand empirical info accrued at a few three hundred English legal trials, this ebook examines the sensible results of this reform schedule and assesses the which means, implications and effect of the government's pledge to place sufferers 'at the guts' of the felony justice system.The research additionally attracts on in-depth interviews with barristers and solicitors, in addition to court docket directors and different neighborhood legal Justice Board contributors. The booklet delves into the policy-making approach in the back of those reforms, according to interviews performed at key govt departments, and provides a version for what a really 'victim concentrated' legal justice process may appear like within the twenty-first century, drawing at the mental and sociological literature on narrative responses to anxious occasions.

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Ashworth (2000) argues that the involvement of victims in sentencing has been used as a means of legitimising a punitive stance against offenders (see also Elias 1986). For Ashworth, it is unjust for unpredictable or unusual impacts upon victims to affect sentence. Ashworth also warns against falsely raising victims’ expectations of their role, while agreeing with Victim Support (1995) that victims should not be burdened with decision-making responsibilities in this area. Despite such views, in a system grounded on proportionality, it may be the very cases where the impact of crime is unusual where the victim’s input into sentencing becomes useful.

The Home Office guidance document for witnesses – Witness in Court (Home Office 2003g) – indicates that the court will ‘take account’ of witnesses’s views when making decisions on special measures (p. 21). That said, the police guidelines are also clear that children under 17 in cases of sexual offences or violence, neglect 37 Victims of Crime or abduction will be considered ‘in need of special protection’ and ‘benefit from strong presumptions’ that their evidence will be given by pre-recorded examination in chief and video-link ‘unless the court considers the measures will not maximise the quality of evidence’.

In the application of special measures provisions under the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 – and following the No Witness, No Justice scheme (Home Office 2004g) – vulnerable and intimidated witnesses are supposed to be identified as such at an early stage by police officers. To this end, police officers taking a witness statement on the standard MG11 form should also submit an MG2 initial witness assessment. This latter form records details of the witness’s vulnerability or intimidation and any special measure necessary to improve the quality of evidence (Home Office 2004h).

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