SLSA 2013 - Using vps to identify vulnerable and intimidated victims

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PowerPoint slides from my conference paper delivered with Jo Boylan-Kemp at the Criminal Law and Criminal Justice stream of the SLSA Annual Conference 2013.

PowerPoint slides from my conference paper delivered with Jo Boylan-Kemp at the Criminal Law and Criminal Justice stream of the SLSA Annual Conference 2013.

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  • 1. Utilising the Victim Personal Statement Scheme as a Vulnerable and Intimidated Victim Early Detection Device Louise Taylor and Jo Boylan-Kemp Nottingham Law School
  • 2. Our research focus • In light of current practice is the UK capable of meeting the individual needs assessment as required by the new EU Victims Directive Directive 2012/29/EU)? • In any event, could the process of early identification of vulnerable and intimidated victims be improved? • Would the Victim Personal Statement (VPS) Scheme be a useful device in improving that identification process? How does it compare as against the evidential statement? Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 3. The Victim Personal Statement Scheme • Overview: o National scheme introduced in Oct 2001. o Voluntary. o Usually in written form and given to the police at the same time as the evidential statement. o Outlines the impact that the crime has had upon the victim. o Becomes part of the case papers. • Literature has focused on: o o o o o Our research focus Participation rates. Potential to raise then dashes victims’ expectations. Effect on sentencing outcomes. Impact on due process rights of defendants. Scheme’s purpose. VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 4. The importance of early identification • The identification of a vulnerable or intimidated witness at an early stage of an investigation is of paramount importance. It will improve the quality of an investigation by assisting the witness to give information to the police; it will assist the legal process by helping the witness to give their best evidence in court. It can help to ensure that the witness has been adequately supported so that they turn up at the trial to give evidence and is, therefore, likely to maximise the likelihood of fair and equitable trials. Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses. A Police Service Guide, 2011, para 17 Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 5. What is meant by vulnerable and intimidated? • Definitions of witnesses who may be vulnerable or intimidated for the purposes of special measures assistance are contained in the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. • Vulnerable witnesses are defined by s. 16. • Intimidated witnesses are defined by s. 17. Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 6. Are current identification practices adequate? • In practice decision-makers apply a three-stage test: o 1) Is the witness potentially vulnerable/intimidated? If yes: o 2) Is this likely to affect their willingness or capacity to give ‘best evidence’ in court, and to cause them undue stress in or before court? If yes: o 3) What type of support or assistance will be most likely to alleviate these difficulties? • Speaking up for Justice (Home Office, 1998) o Official estimate that between 7-10% of witnesses are vulnerable or intimidated. • Burton et al (2006) o 54% of all witnesses are possibly vulnerable or intimidated. Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 7. Special measures • Screens (s 23); • Live TV link (s 24); • Giving evidence in private (limited to sexual offences and those involving intimidation) (s 25) • Removal of wigs and gowns (s 26) • Video recorded interviews as evidence-in-chief (s 27) • Communication through an intermediary (available for vulnerable witnesses)(s 29) • Special communication aids (s30) (available for vulnerable witnesses) • Video recorded cross-examination (s 28). Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 8. Methodology • Content analysis of 100 evidential statements and corresponding victim personal statements. • Taken from Magistrates’ Court files for Cannock Chase police division in Staffordshire. • Sub-sample of 10 files used to refine research focus. • Statements were coded and categorised to identify vulnerability and intimidation indicators. This process was informed by findings from the sub-sample and themes from the literature. Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 9. Vulnerability indicators • Age • Offence type • Mental illness/disability • Physical illness/disability Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 10. Intimidation indicators • • • • • • • • • • • Fear of returning to the scene of the crime Fear of meeting the offender Fear of retribution Threats from the offender / associates Fear of reoffending Fear of going out Difficulty sleeping Fear of being alone Request for relocation Reluctance to attend court Statement of general intimidation Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 11. Sample overview 60 No. of victims by offence type • Age 50 o Under 18 = 10% o Over 18 = 89% o Unknown = 1% 40 30 • Sex o Male = 43% o Female = 55% o Unknown = 2% 20 10 0 OAPA (51) Crim Dam (27) Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Property (18) Methodology Fraud (1) Public Order (21) Findings Motoring (1) Drugs (1) Conclusions
  • 12. % of statements containing intimidation indicator(s) Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 13. Incidence of intimidation indicator by statement type 30 25 20 15 10 Evidential 5 VPS 0 Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 14. Vulnerability • 10 victims were under 18; one victim’s age was unknown. This means a total of 11 victims were potentially vulnerable due to age. • Offence type = None of the files used in the sample contained offences of the type highlighted in YJCEA as giving rise to vulnerability. • Physical disability = 5 (VPS = 3 ; evidential = 2) • Mental disability = 9 (VPS = 8 ; evidential =4) Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 15. Conclusions • Total no. of victims flagged as potentially vulnerable = 25 • Total no. of victims flagged as potentially intimidated = 65 • Accounting for victims who fell into both categories, total no. of victims who are vulnerable or intimidated = 72 Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 16. Conclusions • Overall the VPS is better than the evidential statement as a device to detect intimidated victims. • VPS (and evidential statements) are probably not well suited to identifying vulnerable victims. Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 17. Recommendations for changes to the VPS scheme • National media campaign. • Increased police training. Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions
  • 18. Further research • Replication of the current study using files from Nottinghamshire CPS. • Expanding to include Crown Court files. • Investigation of police practices in the administration of the VPS scheme and the identification of vulnerable and intimidated victims. Our research focus VPS Scheme Identifying victims Methodology Findings Conclusions