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Voice, neutrality and respect: use of victim support services, procedural fairness and confidence in the criminal justice system

By Ben Bradford


Public confidence in the criminal justice system (CJS) is a topic of perennial concern across the United Kingdom, particularly in light of the relatively low levels of confidence reported in the British Crime Survey (BCS) and elsewhere. Recent work on policing has stressed that the experience of procedural fairness is an important influence on ‘user-satisfaction’, trust and legitimacy. Yet it is unclear whether this emphasis on fairness applies to the CJS as a whole, which many might see as primarily there to manage — and punish — offenders as efficiently as possible. This article reports on analysis of the BCS that suggests contact with Victim Support is linked to more favourable views of the fairness of the CJS and to higher levels of confidence in its effectiveness. By providing victims with voice and a sense that someone is listening to and taking their concerns seriously, contact with VS seems to be linked to more favourable overall assessments of the CJS. A space is therefore opened up for approaches to enhancing public confidence that do not rely on ever more punitive policies, or on the arguably Sisyphean task of convincing the public that extant policies are punitive enough

Topics: H Social Sciences (General), HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Publisher: SAEG Publications in association with British Society of Criminology
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1177/1748895811408832
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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