HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
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Too many victims not receiving quality service from criminal justice system

The criminal justice system is not providing the highest quality service to many victims and does not always invest the time and attention needed in cases, a new report has found.

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Meeting the needs of victims in the criminal justice system: An inspection of how well the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Probation Service support victims of crime

An inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation) found that a combination of competing demands, high workloads, poor communication and lack of experience were contributing to victims not always receiving the best service.

Their joint report, ‘Meeting the Needs of Victims in the Criminal Justice System’, assessed whether the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Probation Service understand what victims need, if they meet those needs and if they provide a good service.

It said that rather than trying to meet the individual needs of victims, the police, CPS and Probation Service focused more on whether they were complying with the Victims’ Code. In some cases, where victims’ rights had been met, the report said this was a ‘box-ticking’ exercise with no evidence of the quality of the support.

The inspectorates also heard about some positive practice, including victims’ hubs that provide tailored support to victims, and online portals to access information about cases. Inspectors said these initiatives have the potential to improve the experience of all victims, but often they are developed in isolation at a local level.

The report made six recommendations:

  • Commissioning a broader and fundamental review of the experience of victims of crime, involving other Government departments.
  • Development of Victims’ Code performance metrics and reporting systems, including metrics on how criminal justice bodies engage with victims and the quality of the engagement.
  • Development of minimum standards for the completion of victim needs assessments, including for timeliness of completion and clarity on the information to be recorded.
  • Agreement of minimum standards and consistent processes for how witness care communicates with the police, CPS, and victims to help effective, agile and timely information-sharing.
  • Ensuring all eligible victims are referred to the Victim Contact Scheme.
  • Provision of training on the work of the Victim Contact Scheme to all probation practitioners.

His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams, said: 

“Becoming a victim of crime is often a traumatic, as well as confusing and frustrating, experience. The criminal justice system should be able to support people in these situations, yet the findings in this report are depressingly familiar – once again victims are too often not getting the service they are entitled to.

“It is vital the whole of the criminal justice system works together to improve the service it offers to victims.

“If the recommendations in our report are implemented I am confident they will help to make sure that quality support for victims of crime is placed at the heart of the criminal justice system, where it belongs.”

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, Andrew Cayley KC CMG, said:

“Victims of crime deserve a better service. We found that the police, CPS and the Probation Service all recognise the importance of victims and are committed to improving the service they deliver.

“However, heavy workloads, loss of experience, poor communication and lack of consistent support has all contributed to poor victim experiences. This is unacceptable, and together with my fellow Chief Inspectors, we are strongly urging the Government, police, CPS and probation service to come together and implement our recommendations as soon as possible.”

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation, Sue McAllister said:

“Improving services to victims of crime is crucial and this joint inspection has showed that there is much work to be done.

“We have found that, for those victims who were allocated a victim liaison officer, they benefited from having one person working with them to keep them informed. Although this applies to only a small number of victims, it helps victims to have their voice heard after the offender has been sentenced.”

Get the report

Meeting the needs of victims in the criminal justice system: An inspection of how well the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Probation Service support victims of crime


  1. For further information, please contact the HMICFRS Press Office on 0300 071 6781 or (e-mail address).
  2. Read more information of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales (known as the Victims’ Code).
  3. His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services across England and Wales.


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