Victims’ Voices: The Justice Needs and Experiences of New Zealand Serious Crime Victims
Victim Support New Zealand has released research into crime victims’ experiences of the justice system. The report, Victims’ Voices: The Justice Needs and Experiences of New Zealand Serious Crime Victims, was undertaken to give victims a voice in the country’s upcoming justice reforms and is the first known study exploring this topic in New Zealand.
Victim Support Researcher Dr Petrina Hargrave conducted in depth interviews with 32 victims of serious crime and explored their experience of procedural justice and what justice meant to them.
In the study, 68% of victims felt that justice had not been served in their case, despite 86% of cases resulting in a guilty verdict and 52% in imprisonment of the offender.
Victims’ definitions of justice were more a set of values (e.g., righting the wrong, fairness, and accountability) rather than an outcome, but these values were largely absent from the current system. Victims commonly felt their involvement in the justice system was tokenism, and that they didn’t genuinely matter or have a voice.
Three key themes emerged that can be described as barriers to justice: fear, exclusion, and unfairness.
Victim Support’s recommendations include improving education in the justice sector about victims’ needs and the importance of meeting these; and eliminating barriers to justice to encourage reporting of crime, victim participation, and healing for victims.
Dr Hargrave says the research is the empirical evidence needed to advocate for a shift in the culture of the justice system in New Zealand. “The justice system must move from a tick-box culture to one where victims and their needs genuinely matter. Our justice system has the potential to move from compounding the harm victims have already suffered to being part of victims’ healing.”
Victims’ Voices: The Justice Needs and Experiences of New Zealand Serious Crime Victims can be viewed here .
Attached: genuine justice graphic