Victims of Crime: Policy and Practice in Criminal Justice

Victims of Crime: Policy and Practice in Criminal Justice

Victims of Crime: Policy and Practice in Criminal Justice

Victims of Crime: Policy and Practice in Criminal Justice


Over the last thirty years, victims of crime have become a staple topic of media interest and policy-making discourse.Drawing on an extensive programme of first-hand empirical data gathered at some 300 English criminal trials, this book examines the practical outcomes of this reform agenda and assesses the meaning, implications and impact of the government's pledge to put victims 'at the heart' of the criminal justice system.The study also draws on in-depth interviews with barristers and solicitors, as well as court administrators and other Local Criminal Justice Board members. The book delves into the policy-making process behind these reforms, based on interviews conducted at key government departments, and offers a model for what a genuinely 'victim centred' criminal justice system might look like in the twenty-first century, drawing on the psychological and sociological literature on narrative responses to traumatic events.


My government will put victims at the heart of the criminal
justice system. (Queen’s Speech of 15 November 2006)

By the time Tony Blair’s New Labour government was setting out its policy on victims of crime in such stark tones at the end of 2006, victims had already undergone a radical metamorphosis from the ‘forgotten man of the criminal justice system’ (Shapland et al. 1985) to the subjects of extensive official attention and legislative change. Indeed, by this point, the pledge to put victims ‘at the heart’ of the system, and to achieve ‘victim-centred’ criminal justice, was itself well established in official policy rhetoric. The pledge had already appeared in multiple policy documents, including the seminal 2002 White Paper Justice for all (Home Office 2002). In the years that followed, victims of crime have remained a topical and pervasive issue for politicians, policy-makers, the media and academics in the twenty-first century.

Researching victims

Initial planning for the research set out in this volume began in 2003, shortly after the summer publication of the government’s ‘New Deal’ strategy to deliver improved services to victims and witnesses (Home Office 2003a). By this point, victimology was already a wellestablished (if somewhat diverse) (sub)discipline with its own journal – the International Review of Victimology – and associated debates . . .

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