The ambition behind this research and evidence-translation programme is to support policy makers and practitioners in creating a victim-centred, victim-sensitive and victim-shaped criminal justice service.
This is an important period of development for victim and witness services in England and Wales. National contracts for some specialist and court-based support services have recently been re-awarded. Locally, PCCs across England and Wales have taken on responsibility for recommissioning their victim and witness service provisions and in the next two years most will have undertaken or be undertaking substantive recommissioning processes. In Northamptonshire the PCC is undertaking pioneering work developing the ‘Victims’ Voice’ model.
The development of this IPSCJ research and translation programme aims to put the IPSCJ in a primary position in the context of this period of rapid and important change: to demonstrate and deliver the most effective methods for engaging victims and gaining insight; for shaping services based upon that insight; for implementing and driving the most effective models of service and support for victims; for reshaping the wider system to be victim-centred; and for benchmarking and quality assurance.
The IPSCJ victim and witness research programme seeks to understand, sensitively and in depth, the real-life victim experiences throughout and beyond the justice process, looking beyond specific agencies and processes, and focusing on outcomes for victims. It is providing understand of ‘what works’ for victims and witnesses in enabling their swift and full recovery, in keeping them safe and protecting them from further harm, and in building their confidence in, and their engagement with, agencies and processes.
The programme seeks to develop the evidence needed to redesign services in ways which minimise the impact of victimisation on mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and create more supportive, accessible and effective pathways through justice, driving greater victim-centred collaboration across policing, justice, health and social services. This programme of work seeks to be ‘client-side’, engaging with and genuinely listening and giving voice to victims and witnesses, to develop the insight and evidence required from them to make the changes they want to see.
Another key deliverable is the establishment and roll out the National Victim and Witness Quality Mark, applicable across agencies and sectors to provide a benchmarking and improvement framework tool to drive up service standards, drive commitment to meeting victims and witness needs, and support the building of victim and witness confidence in the justice system.
Linked to the above work streams, the IPSCJ is also developing local service and system diagnostic and evaluation models, and to develop local victim and witness performance metrics (including a new programme to enhance victim and witness surveying), and new models for needs assessments of victim populations. The above work is beginning on a Northamptonshire footprint, but based on its development the IPSCJ will look to develop the skills to provide guidance and consultancy on service commissioning, management and delivery into local victim provision across the UK and beyond.
Projects under the Victim, Witness and Service User Experience programme currently include:
- Victim and Witness Experience Surveying Programme
- Victim Services Organisational Diagnostic and Development
- National Victim and Witness Quality Mark