New report slams government's 'tough on victims' criminal justice policies
Date released: 09/07/06
The government's drive to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system is failing to address some of the most serious offences, so ignoring the suffering of many thousands of victims, a new report from the Crime and Society Foundation today claims.
The report, entitled 'Right for the wrong reasons', points out that the vast majority of some of the most serious and violent offences never end in the successful conviction of an offender, calling into question the government's faith in the crime-fighting potential of the criminal justice system.
'Right for the wrong reasons' points out that the government significantly underestimates the scale of failure of the criminal justice system. When the true scale of victimisation of serious offences such as child abuse and sexual assaults are acknowledged, it is clear that the criminal justice system is never likely to have anything but a marginal impact on levels and rates.
Rather than pursuing a hopeless quest to drive up the conviction rate, the report argues, the government should be taking seriously the social and economic causes of crime. The real crime reduction challenge, argues 'Right for the wrong reasons', lies in a much broader array of social and economic changes than the criminal justice system can ever deliver.
On the day before David Cameron's widely-trailed speech on crime, the report author Richard Garside, Chair of the Crime and Society Foundation and Acting Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said,
'Bang for buck, the criminal justice system is one of the least effective means of reducing and controlling crime. Most crime never ends in a conviction. Most victims never get redress through the criminal justice system. The cross-party 'tough on crime' consensus is tough on victims too.
'Our levels of crime and victimisation reflect the way that we organise our society, not the relative toughness of our criminal justice system. The way to a safer and lower crime society lies in policies to reduce poverty, challenge sexism, and tackle concentrations of power.'
Contact: Sean Roberts, Senior Associate: 020 7848 1687; 07817 383 898.
Notes to editors
1. 'Right for the wrong reasons: Making sense of criminal justice failure', by Richard Garside, is published by the Crime and Society Foundation on July 9, 2006. A pdf version is available here.
2. The Crime and Society Foundation is a social policy and criminal justice think tank based at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London. The Foundation stimulates debate about the role and limits of criminal justice and enhances understanding of the foundations and characteristics of a safer society.
3. Recent publications by Richard Garside include 'Crime, persistent offenders and the justice gap', described as "the most authoritative and far-reaching analysis ever of official crime figures".
4. David Cameron is expected to deliver a keynote speech on crime policy at the Centre for Social Justice conference 'Thugs: Beyond Redemption?' on Monday, July 10, 2006.