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Title: Putting victims of crime 'at the heart' of criminal justice : practice, politics and philosophy
Author: Hall, Matthew Peter
ISNI:       0000 0001 2429 8698
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines the pledge made by the New Labour government to put victims of crime ‘at the heart’ of the criminal justice system in England and Wales. The central questions addressed are what it would mean to have a victim-centred criminal justice system, what factors have driven this ‘policy’, and what putting victims ‘to the heart’ of the system has meant so far in practice. Drawing on ethnographic techniques - including courtroom observation, qualitative interviews and surveys - this research is particularly concerned with the place of victims in the criminal trial procedure. As such, observations were conducted of trials at two magistrates’ courts and one Crown Court centre. These were combined with semistructured interviews with legal practitioners and court personnel. A court users survey was also conducted at one of the magistrates’ courts to ascertain the views of victims and witnesses on court facilities, service provision, and the experience of giving evidence. In addition, interviews were conducted with criminal justice administrators in the local area under review and with central policy-makers at the Home Office, Office for Criminal Justice Reform and Department for Constitutional Affairs in order to shed light on the formation of the victim ‘policy’ and the challenges of its local implementation. Findings from a grounded analysis of this dataset indicate that whilst, practically, much has been done to assist victims throughout the criminal justice system, cultural barriers and the practices of lawyers, advocates, benches and court staff have not caught up with these good intentions. It is further argued that this ‘policy’ is in fact driven by a multitude of goals and political pressures, not all of which are conducive to victims’ needs. Broadly speaking, this has resulted in central government relinquishing responsibility for victims in favour of local implementers, without providing the necessary financial backing. The study concludes by proposing a model of victim-centred criminal justice, which emphasises a victim’s ability to make an ‘account’ during the trial process and thereby achieve therapeutic outcomes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available