To what extent do criminal justice systems put victims first?

I hereby take this opportunity to address the fact that crime victims are not a top priority to the criminal justice system. To begin with, the role of crime victims in the criminal justice system is set at the edge. Victims of crime feel ignored or let down by the criminal justice system despite the promises to improve its performance. To remember, the role of victims in the criminal justice system in the UK has been a significant concern even in the 1940s (Bows, 2018). For instance, the only point where victims are involved is when they are active participants in the case as witnesses. In most cases, the victims do not have a say when it comes to crucial developments of a case, as it should be. The victims are usually bystanders during the proceedings of a case and ignored in the end.

Provisions for victims in criminal justice system

The provisions for crime victims in the criminal justice system are important because they address victim’s concerns. First, the appointment of a victim’s commissioner in London is set to improve and support the victims as well as survivors of crime (Bows, 2018). The role of the commissioner is to support the developments and projects to help victims. The development of a one-stop-shop for victim service tends to offer support for victims of crime. In addition, the creation of a victim’s code provides various entitlement to victims of crime, such as the right to a need for assessment for what to expect from the criminal justice system and the right to make personal statements.

Moreover, the current criminal justice responses to crime are important to victims because it shows that the authorities are concerned, value, and understand their experience (Bows, 2018). For most victims of crime, low enforcement represents the gateway to the criminal justice system and their view of the system by the way they are treated at the first response and during the proceeding, investigation affects them. First, the responses determine whether the criminal justice system understand victims’ needs or not. The victims need to know whether they are being valued and that their experiences are used to make sure that justice is served. Second, victim compensation is one of the response systems that are useful to victims. Compensation shows that the criminal justice system understands their problems.

Problems that victims face

The notion of “ideal victim” has been subject to several interpretations used to alter decisions in courts. Many people do have a different view of a crime victim in various cases. In the UK, an ideal victim is an innocent and defenseless victim who has no complicity in a crime. The victim should be weak, involved in a respectable activity, and the perpetrator is dominant to the victim (Bows, 2018). The perceived victim is a young female rape victim or an older woman who has been mugged. The ideal victim stereotype has shown that the ideal rape victim to be young, female, and attractive, whereas the perpetrators to be male and stranger. The stereotype is a barrier to obtaining justice for victims.

The construction of the ideal victim is usually used in the criminal justice system. Research has shown that judges, police, and prosecutors, among others, have accepted the ideal victim concepts and are using it to make decisions. For example, victim status like age, gender, and ethnicity are a focal point when making legal decisions in England and Wales. Defense lawyers use the notion of an ideal victim to manipulate the interpretation of evidence during court hearings (Bows 2018). Using this idea, the defense lawyers seek information like victims’ sexual history and what they were wearing as well as how they behaved during a rape incidence. The ideal victim perception has been used to paint victims as not as innocent as the perpetrators walk free. 

There are other adverse consequences of the myth of an ideal victim. First, people who have been raped are haunted by their life status, especially sexual history. In most cases, the real victims are daunted as not innocent, using the provision of the ideal victim concept. Second, people who are not victims use aspects such as age, gender, and appearance to justify their perceived crime claims (Bows, 2018). In regards to this, some people are deemed guilty using the perceptions of the perceived victims to justify a cover-up. It is worth noting that victim status has caused a real problem in the prosecution of cases. The idea has been used to stereotype others based on gender, age, and ethnic groups. Thus, the courts have failed to look at real issues or evidence around a given crime case to inform their decisions.

Every victim of crime has a right to justice. Despite the development of victim’s rights and an increased concern in the criminal justice system, there is still an issue with how victims are treated during the proceeding of a case. The criminal justice system has failed to follow the provision in the code of practice for victims of crime. In most cases, crime victims are only treated as witnesses and are sometimes not allowed to project their concerns during a case proceeding. UK victim Support says, “as many as six in ten victims are not receiving their rights under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and are not being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve” (Bows, 2018). Therefore, the implementation of the set policies regarding the rights of crime victims is still a challenge.

In the UK, victims experience many challenges presenting their attributes to relevant authorities in the criminal justice departments. Police and other authorities ask many questions to determine victim status used to influence legal decisions during a court hearing. The move is to identify if they embody the provided ideal victim characteristics for them to be placed at the top of the hierarchy (Bows, 2018). The victim’s level in the hierarchy is important because it determines conviction. Victims at the bottom of the hierarchy are less likely to receive justice because they are deemed non-innocent, using the myth of an ideal victim. Thus, presenting personal attributes to authorities from reporting to a court hearing is a challenge to victims.

In the current system, various groups are ignored in criminal justice responses. The homeless, alcohol and drug addicts, prostitutes, and other people who engage in ‘risky’ behavior (Bows, 2018). These people are perceived as seen as guilty even when they are victims in criminal cases using the idea of ideal victim. In regards to this, these people fail to get justice because of the status in the society. However, even with the inclusion of provisions such as victims’ code and introduction of victim’s commissioner, the issue of ideal victims has not been addressed. The system still allows judgment or conviction to be made based on a victim’s and perpetrators’ age, gender, and personality in society. The other problems that exist are police and other authorities in the criminal justice system to value and respect any victim of crime.

My recommendation to the identified problems

Victims must have a better deal from the criminal justice system because it is their right. In most cases, crime victims usually see their crimes being prosecuted and investigated, which turns to be a frustrating experience. Based on the experiences that these victims, sometimes it appears as if they are being victimized again. Thus, there is a need to have changes done in the criminal justice system to help improve the experiences of the victims. First, a low should be set to punish any police, judge, and prosecutors among others who fail to show respect and value to crime victims. Second, the government should stop the criminal justice system from using the ideal victim concept as the primary determinant of a case. The criminal justice system should be made to use evidence as opposed to the myths that end up in victimization.

Conclusion

After victimization, victims of crime usually find themselves in depression with no idea of where to seek for help. Since the criminal justice system is one of the agencies that most victims are more likely to contact after a crime, the response has an important influence on the victim’s recovery from the crime. In regards to this, as our representative in parliament, I ask that you consider introducing a policy that will improve the performance of the criminal justice system by making it to be victim-responsive. In addition, the other issue that you should deal with is the use of the ideal victim stereotype to influence court decisions regarding a criminal case. The policy should make the idea of an ideal victim clear.

Thank you and I hope you will consider my recommendations to solve the issue of victimizing crime crimes.

Yours faithfully

Student’s Name

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