While the recently released report “Satisfaction and willingness to engage with the criminal justice system” from the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice offers several interesting tidbits, the most striking finding is, perhaps, that victims and witnesses report relatively positive experiences with the UK criminal justice system.
For example, regarding satisfaction with case outcomes, contact, receiving information, and treatment:
- “The majority (83 per cent) of victims and witnesses who knew what the case outcome was thought it was fair.”
- “The majority of victims and witnesses (84 per cent) were satisfied with their overall contact with the CJS.”
- “The majority were satisfied with the information they received about the criminal justice process (85 per cent), with how well they were kept informed of the progress of their case (79 per cent) and with the way they were treated by CJS staff (91 per cent).”
Not surprisingly, this overall satisfaction also translated into a willingness to interact with the UK criminal justice system in the future:
- “The majority of victims (90 per cent) and witnesses (92 per cent) said they would report a future incident to the police if a similar crime occurred.”
- “Two thirds of victims and witnesses who gave evidence (67 per cent) said they would agree to give evidence again in future.”
All of this is despite the fact that going to court was not a particularly pleasant experience:
- “Two fifths (41 per cent) of victims and witnesses said they had been asked to give evidence, of which 57 per cent attended court expecting to give evidence.”
- “Just over a half (55 per cent) of victims and witnesses who attended court to give evidence ended up doing so, with over a third (37 per cent) of court attendees being told that their evidence was no longer needed.”
- “Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of victims and witnesses who attended court to give evidence reported feeling intimidated by an individual during the criminal justice process.”
- “Of those victims and witnesses who told a CJS official about their feelings of intimidation, almost three-fifths (58 per cent) felt that their concerns were addressed.”
These findings are remarkable – not just because they suggest a far more positive experience than I would have hypothesized, but because they exist at all. I would love to see the American criminal justice system devote enough resources to this issue to fund a similar endeavor. The report, which can be read here, is based on nearly 38,000 interviews, split roughly equally between victims and witnesses. Data nerds will be happy to see that it goes beyond mere frequencies and into multivariate analysis with all kinds of interesting tables to read.
I can’t help, wondering, though, if we did the same kind of report… how would we compare?