Criminal justice ratings ‘crucial’ but ‘not user friendly’

Scorecards showing the performance of police and prosecutors are ‘missing important data’, say campaigners.

25 March 2022

Scorecards showing the performance of police and prosecutors around the country are a “crucial” tool but are “missing important data” and are “not the most user friendly”, according to campaigners.

The Government has started publishing the ratings in a bid to “increase transparency” around how the criminal justice system is working and expose where it is failing.

The move has been generally welcomed by campaigners and described as an opportunity to better hold authorities to account. But concerns have also been raised about how the information is presented and what is included.

It comes as Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said too many victims were being let down by police and prosecutors.

The first national ratings were released last year, while local scorecards – looking at regional data – were published on Friday. They include information on the time taken for cases to be investigated by police, for someone to be charged and for the case to be concluded at court. They will particularly look at how reports of rape and sexual violence are handled.

Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “While this first iteration of scorecards is not the most user friendly, it is also missing important equalities data that would enable us to see who the criminal justice system is not serving, and the victims who are the most left behind.

“We have been calling on the Government to incorporate this as a vital piece in understanding the changes that are needed so all victims and survivors feel able to report to the police and engage with the system if they choose.”

She said the coalition will be “analysing the new local criminal justice scorecards with interest”, adding: “Too often we hear of the postcode lottery when it comes to victims’ and survivors’ experiences, and this will help us understand which areas are performing the worst.

“However, the failings of the criminal justice system when it comes to rape is a national issue: performance is nowhere good enough across the board.”

Emily Hunt, a sexual assault survivor and campaigner who is now the Government’s adviser on victims, said “currently, it’s not the most beautiful data tool ever” but is a “great start” and allows “quite powerful access to data from across criminal justice agencies in one place”.

Describing the scorecards as a “crucial” tool, Ms Hunt said they were one of many designed to help meet the Government’s commitment to improve rape prosecution rates.

She added: “It is clear from the data in the scorecards that prosecutions are not yet improving. That’s actually why sharing this data is so important.”

Mr Raab said 60% of victims are not reporting crimes to police and a third drop out during the prosecution process.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, he added: “It’s appalling that three in five victims don’t report crimes and a third pull out of prosecutions before they see justice done.”

The latest scorecards are a collection of data for last year which had already been published. The Government plans to update the scorecards each quarter and hopes soon they will be published alongside, or shortly after, the latest available figures to bring them up to date.

Dame Vera Baird, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said the scorecards will “expose weak links” but warned they are not a “panacea” and “numerical snapshots do not tell the whole story”, adding: “They will need to be complemented by the victims’ voice to provide a more rounded picture.”

Earlier, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) promised to spend more than £440 million on victim support services over the next three years.

It also announced measures to help spare victims of rape and modern slavery the trauma of giving evidence in the full glare of a courtroom are being rolled out in the North East.

Known as Section 28s applications, these allow victims to have their cross-examination recorded earlier in the process and outside of the live trial, subject to the court approving the request.

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