16 Feb 2019

Views on justice system pour in from crime victims

3:50 pm on 16 February 2019

Hundreds of victims of crime have already responded to a survey on the justice system.

crime scene generic

Photo: 123rf

Chief Victims Advisor to the government Kim McGregor said nearly 300 victims have responded to the survey in the 12 days since it was launched.

She hopes the survey, which has been launched through victim advocates networks, will show what needs to be changed to improve the justice system and where people fall through the cracks.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get feedback directly to the Justice Minister," Dr McGregor said.

The idea of the survey is to stop the system from re-traumatising victims and to remove the obstacles that prevent complainants from coming forward in the first place.

Statistics show only 20 percent of family violence crimes are reported, while only 1 in 100 sexual violence crimes will result in a conviction, she said.

"The criminal justice system... largely sidelines victims and they are relegated to the status of a witness to the crime they have experienced".

Dr McGregor said the playing field was not level because offenders had the right to silence, while complainants could be put on the stand and grilled for days.

The survey's results will inform Dr McGregor's advice to the government and the Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata - Safe and Effective Justice programme.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the criminal system was broken and fixing it meant putting victims at the heart of change.

Minister of Justice Andrew Little.

Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"We must have fewer victims of crime, who are better supported," he said.

"We know that many victims feel let down by the current system, and that they find it difficult to navigate their way to justice and restoration. That's not good enough.

"I have asked Dr McGregor to conduct this survey so we can fix the system and ensure victims achieve justice without feeling re-victimised by the process."

The survey is one strand of a wider range of initiatives underway to hear and respond to the voices of survivors of crime.

Dr McGregor has hosted a panel on victims' issues at the Criminal Justice Summit and two pre-summit forums.

"Next steps include workshops and face-to-face meetings with victims around the country, as I continue to gather information about gaps in the system and ideas for reform, so I can prepare my recommendations," she said.

The survey - which is available in English and te reo Māori - runs until Friday, 1 March.

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