The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin: ‘Victim and Witness Experience of the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice System: Key Findings – 2022/23’
The bulletin is an Official Statistics publication. It outlines the key findings from the latest (8th) sweep of the Northern Ireland Victim and Witness Survey (NIVAWS). The findings from the survey provide a benchmark against which to monitor progress in service delivery to victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system. Significant changes in the findings compared with the previous 2019/20 sweep are highlighted throughout the bulletin.
The key findings from the 2022/23 survey were as follows:-
- Overall, ninety-three percent of respondents reported being satisfied with how they had been treated while giving their statement.
- Approximately three quarters of respondents (76%) were satisfied with the information they received about the progress of their case.
- In instances where cases had been dropped or a formal police caution/warning issued, there was a significant fall in 2022/23 in the proportion of victims who reported having been contacted by the police or the PPS and told the reason for this (2019/20, 69%; 2022/23, 58%).
- Overall, 84% of respondents were satisfied with the information they had received to prepare them for going to court. Compared with 2019/20, there were, however, significant reductions in the proportion overall who had been offered an advance court familiarisation visit (2019/20, 47%; 2022/23, 28%) and in the proportion satisfied with how they had been dealt with prior to attending court (2019/20, 88%; 2022/23, 79%).
Experience at Court
- Of respondents asked to attend court to give evidence, the majority (65%) reported that they had not ultimately been required to give evidence. Only one fifth of respondents whose evidence was not needed, had been informed of this before the trial.
- Of respondents asked to give evidence in court, there were significant falls both overall (93% to 82%) and at victim (93% to 76%) level in the proportion who reported that they had understood what was happening in court while they were there.
- Overall, 78% of respondents (68% of victims and 94% of witnesses) felt that they had been dealt with fairly while giving evidence.
- Compared with 2019/20 however, there was a significant fall in the proportion of respondents overall who had been satisfied with their experience at court (2019/20, 78%; 2022/23, 66%).
- Of those asked to give evidence in 2022/23, 83% (79% of victims and 88% of witnesses) reported feeling safe while in the court room. Of those not asked to give evidence but who attended court, 29% (20% of victims and 50% of witnesses) felt safe in the court room.
- Eighty one percent of respondents reported that they had found out the outcome of their respective cases. The majority felt that it had been fair (Overall - 67%; Victims – 62%; Witnesses – 84%).
- Overall, 73% of respondents (79% of victims and 57% of witnesses) reported knowing what the sentence had been in their case. Fewer than half thought that it had been fair (Overall – 44%; Victims – 45%; Witnesses – 42%).
- Approximately two fifths (41%) of respondents (32% of victims and 56% of witnesses) who ultimately gave evidence in court indicated that they would be likely to agree to be a witness in a criminal trial again.
- The vast majority of witnesses (93%) advised that, were they to witness the same type of crime again, they would report it to the police.
- Similarly, the vast majority of victims (80%) reported that, were they to become victims of a similar crime again, they would report the incident to the police.
Criminal Justice System – Global Satisfaction Indicators
- Overall 56% of respondents in 2022/23 reported being satisfied with how well they had been kept informed about the progress of their case.
- Compared with 2019/20, there were significant reductions in 2022/23 in the proportions of respondents reporting satisfaction on each of the other three indicators:-
- Information provided about the Criminal Justice System (the proportion satisfied fell from 75% to 68%).
- Treatment by staff in the Criminal Justice System (fell from 86% to 79%).
- Contact with the Criminal Justice System (fell from 73% to 68%).
Notes to editors:
1.The Northern Ireland Victim and Witness Survey (NIVAWS) is an interview based survey, conducted using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). The survey questionnaire covers all aspects of the victim and witness experience of the criminal justice system from the point of initial contact with the police through to the point of sentencing and beyond.
2.The survey was administered to 611 victims and witnesses involved in criminal cases which closed during January to September 2022. Expert witnesses (e.g. police officers or other criminal justice officials) and cases involving certain crimes (e.g. cases involving a fatality or involving sexual or domestic violence, drugs offences, motoring offences and fraud and forgery) are excluded.
3. As highlighted in the main report, it is possible that the covid pandemic may have impacted on some of the findings for 2022/23.
4. Official Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access.
5.This bulletin is available from the publication section of this website or Analytical Services Group, Financial Services Division, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SG. EMAIL
6. For media enquiries contact the Department of Justice Press Office via EMAIL
7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours 028 9037 8110.
- Northern Ireland Youth Justice Agency Annual Workload Statistics 2022/23 published today 14 September 2023
- Do you have an interest in prisons and improving prison life? 14 September 2023
- Stay legal, safe and considerate if you are planning fireworks this Halloween 08 September 2023
- Case Processing Time for Criminal Cases dealt with at Courts in Northern Ireland 2022/23 30 August 2023