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Published: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Evaluate the difficulties vulnerable victims may encounter
Victim means anyone who is individually or collectively have suffered harm whether in a physical or mental injury ,emotional suffering ,economic loss under these circumstances’ they are classified as victims in the eyes of the state. When a criminal offences commited against a child his or her parent or legal guardians are also classified as victims.
In criminal justice system victims play a crucial role in criminal justice system (CJS)within it this may be by giving evidence to the court stages for cases. In cases where the victims was the only witness at scene and therefore would be useful to convict the accused person.
Shapland (1985) has pointed to the fact that the victims were often taken for granted in the court tril process with their needs often been ignored by the (CJS) according to the research shows that vulnerable victims such as victims of sexual offences children and the mentally disordered felt re victimised and traumatised by the giving evidence under the cross examination due to the unfriendly adversarial attitudes of solicitors and barristers.( ) In a court trial where the victims has to stand as a witness in a court room where they have not been before therefore this would be very difficult for vulnerable victims when they go for the cross examination . shapland and Bell (1998) found that around 76 & of the Crown Courts and 53 % of magistrates courts made victims sit in the public gallery just to exposing them to abuse and intimidation from the defendants family and friends. Finalyy whitehead (200) found that 9% of the victims had to wait for quiet long hours just to give their evidence in court also 40 % of vict8ims not asked to give any evidence despite when they were in court trial according to the study ( ).the government recent legislation and polices have actually attemped to take vvictims needs into account before and during trial. Witness service which they give victims support at court for pre trial. It was extended from Crown Courts to cover all magistrates courts in England and Wales in 2002.
The youth justice and criminal evidence act 1999 introduced a range of measures for vulenerable victims and witneses when giving evidence in court . when they go into court room defendant and witneses can not each other under this legislation victims/witnesses had chance to give their evidence as video recorded rather than giving it live in court.
Goodey 2005:161 argues that the youth justice and criminal evidence act 1999 measures do nothing to address the fundemantal issue of the traumatic experience of cross examination for victims, birch 2000 agrees additionally arguing that the Act is based around the view that conditions can only be made better for victims by making
them worse for defendandts. Birch found that the measures for vulenerable witnesses had not been fully implrmented nationwide and that the police and the cps had great difficulties in identifying who was and was not vulnerable and elegible for the special meauseres under the 1999 Act. Excluding many victims who really were vulnerable in the process. Overall the measures desisgned to make things easier for victims giving evidence may damage die process for defendandts by excluding some evidence which they could otherwise have used to disprove the charges against them while not making giving evidence in court easier for victims.
Finally eltough the reforms introduced in the youth justice and criminal evidence act 1999 and the criminal justice act 2003 to improve the experiences of vulenerable victims in court have to some extent promoted the theory that the criminal justice process has the prevention of social harm as one of its aims they have tried to increase victims right mainly by taking rights away from defandants , these reforms have not improved conditions for all vulnerable victims in court and have failed to address the fundemantal issue of victims having to give evidence and be cross examined in court orally. Overally they have removed further due process from the courts in terms of through proof of the defendandts mens rea and criminal responsibility while not improving the social justice of the court process for all of those who need it the most.
When it comes to the pre trial process it usually starting with when the victims make their complaint to the police and then after police investigate it and the case get passed to the crown prosecute services(CPS) they make their decision as whether or not to prosecute the accused person. The victim should be notified about their case police must ensure that victims have access to information about victim support and other local support agencies in their area. when there is no action needed to take against suspect in the criminal justice process , the police must inform victim of the stage of the progress of the case until the investigation is closed. Police must inform victims of the reasons for not charging the suspect person for example on bail, release arrest and decision to prosecute or not to prosecute the suspect all these key things should be taking into account by police to let victim know.
According to a recent survey shows that victim feel that they are treated as a piece of evidence by the police, victims were saying that they were helpful only at some certain stages when victim help prove the prosecution cases and when they help police officers find the bad guy survey showed that victim often feel disrespected and ignored and that victims interests and concerns was irrelevant. However too often the cjs system fails to inform victim about proceedings that involves bails and pleas and sentencing too often victims not getting information about their trials either and too often victims financial losses are ignored this is leading to lack of confidence in the CJS victims are victimized for a second time at this stage.
The court process starts off with the defendant when entering a plea. If the defendant pleas guilty to the offence that he/she committed ,there won’t be any trial sessions at court and the imposition of sentence follows after that. Victims may be asked to provide a victims personal statement documenting the impact of the crime to be considered at the sentencing stage. However as this engages victims right to be heard it is not considered in this section. If the defendant pleads not guilty
A child at the age of under 17 and with learning difficulties in a court room would be very intimidating for kind of person like this. Judges barristers everyone would intimidate the child because the way they look in gowns therefore this child with learning difficulties would feel isolated easily and a barrister would take the advantage of this and would find it easy to confuse the child by asking very short and long questions to the child with a learning difficulties these sort of teqniques that been used by the barrister can put a doubt in judges mind to w the case.
Sections 16 and 17 of the yjcea allows the use of special measures to assist vulnerable and intimadted witnesses to give evidence in court. Section 16 which deals with vulnerable witnesess provides that a witness is eligible for such assistance if she/he is under the age of 17 at the time of the hearing or the court may decide that the evidence is likely to be reduced because if she/he has got a mental disorder ,a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning or a physical disability or disorder.
In order to win the case the defense lawyers commonly employ to upset ,unsettle ,confuse,confound and otherwise intimidate witnesses in order to negate or discredit their trstimony or to bring into their credibility. All these things will go through under the cross examining barrister as to credit ,inappropriate language,coercive questioning and intimidating tactis.
Cross examination has a number of aims. It used for cross examining the evidence has been given in court trials orally to find the truth .
In rape trial cases a number of criticism raised , in the context of cross examination as to credit ,criticism has centred almost exculusively on the treatment of complainants in rape trials amd in particular on the implementation of the Sexual offences Act 1976 section 2 studies have revealed the extent to which complainants continue to be quizzed about their past sexual history with persons other than the defendant despite the passing of this legislation. Relating to this act Adley found that this sexual history evidence were made in 40% of the fifty rape trials adley studied at the old bailey and that only around 75 % were allowed. Half the woman who had been raped by some one they knew they were asked about their previouse sexual experiences with men other than the defendant. In a number of cases questions were asked by the cross examine barrister without any application having been made.
feminist saw the cross examination as the worst aspect of giving evidence in rape trialmany complainants have described their treatment in court tials in terms of further abuse:
I had put my trust and faith in the legal system and afterwards the person who has been raped felt that she has been abused again by the people she trusted. A study been carried out by the victim support . women characterized the process of the cross examination as patrosing, humiliating and worse than the rape, accused defence barrister of asking private ,intrusive and inappropriate questions about their private lives. Describing the treatmen she faced by the legal system was traumatic. Once victim complained that she has been asked insinuating questions about her behavior,her friends and her social life since the offence.
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