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New resource will help victims and witnesses navigate a complex system

Fortunately most of us rarely become involved in the criminal justice system, especially here in Devon and Cornwall where the crime rate is one of the lowest in the country.

New resource will help victims and witnesses navigate a complex system

But if you are unlucky enough to be the victim of crime, however serious it might be, the way the police, prosecutors work can appear baffling, with different organisations not always seeming to be pulling in the same direction and with different and nuanced roles and responsibilities.

For some time now I have been keen to create a resource which gives clear advice to anyone wanting to understand the various different parts of the criminal justice system.

Last week, after an awful lot of work by my team with the Local Criminal Justice Board, it was my privilege to launch an interactive resource which aims to transform the experience of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system in Devon and Cornwall.

Criminal Justice and You is a first-of-its-kind multimedia resource developed by victims for victims, bringing all aspects of the criminal justice system into one place, with the aim of demystifying every step of the process.

The project features videos of partners working in their own area of expertise from across the criminal justice arena, speaking directly to victims and witnesses to explain what to expect at each stage, from reporting a crime through to the conclusion of a case. 

There is also information about accessing victim services and restorative justice, as well as what happens if a case doesn’t go to court or if the perpetrator is under the age of 18. Details are also provided of how to make a complaint if a victim or witness is unhappy with the service they have been provided.

To ensure accessibility, the videos feature a British Sign Language translator, and transcripts are viewable as a plain text document for anyone who experiences difficulty with a video format, or who wishes to view the information in another language.

The new resource went down very well among partners and will prove invaluable to anyone who feels they need support or clarity, and will be an important tool in ensuring transparency around the criminal justice system.

I am responsible for commissioning services for victims and we have ensured that their voice has been heard throughout the development of this piece of work. I hope these videos, alongside links to further useful information, will help to give victims and witnesses back control over their experience, allowing them to understand what is happening at a time that suits them and at their own pace.

At a time when confidence in policing and criminal justice is in the spotlight, this tool will help to ensure transparency in relation not only to our police force but also to all our partner agencies, who are here for you and want the best possible outcome for you.

Criminal Justice and You features videos from me, Devon and Cornwall Police, Victim Support, the Crown Prosecution Service, Citizen’s Advice, His Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, National Probation Service, the Parole Board, and the Youth Justice Service.

Like the Prisoners Building Homes project which is gaining national traction, this too is impressing the Government, with Minister for Victims & Safeguarding Laura Farris  describing it as ‘an invaluable asset’. 

Criminal Justice and You is hosted on the OPCC’s Victim Care Devon & Cornwall website, which helps victims to access specialist support services at any time, even if a crime hasn’t been reported to police.

So if you have been a victim or witness, or are just interested in how the criminal justice system works, please visit: