Beattie raises concerns on support for victims and witnesses

< Back To News

Beattie raises concerns on support for victims and witnesses

Doug Beattie MC MLA, Ulster Unionist Party leader and Justice Spokesperson, has expressed serious concerns regarding the current state of support and communication for those who have experienced crime. Despite the commendable efforts of existing services, Mr. Beattie highlights areas of improvement needed and calls on the Justice Minister to conduct an in-depth review to ensure victims and witnesses receive the support they require.

Mr. Beattie said,

“The figures provided by the Justice Department indicate significant strides in various aspects of victim and witness support. However, it is evident from the data that a crucial aspect requiring attention is the communication and ongoing support provided to those affected by crime.

“Numbers may show progress in several areas, but the real test lies in the satisfaction and well-being of victims and witnesses. It is disconcerting to learn that a substantial percentage of respondents are not being kept informed about the progress of their cases,

“The statistics reveal that only 77% of respondents reported having been given the name and contact details of the officer in charge of their case. This lack of communication extends to updates on case progress, with 18% of respondents waiting over 6 months for an official update, and 11% reporting not having heard anything officially at all.

“This is not merely a statistical concern; it is a matter of ensuring that victims and witnesses feel supported throughout the entirety of the legal process. We cannot consider the case closed when individuals are left in the dark about the progress and conclusion of their cases.

“In the year 2022/23, the proportion of witnesses reporting that a criminal justice source had kept them informed decreased from 68% to 58%. Additionally, only 73% of respondents overall reported knowing what the sentence had been in their case. This lack of awareness highlights a gap in the post-case follow-up and communication process.

“While I acknowledge the high satisfaction rate with the Adult Witness Service or the Young Witness Service, the need for improvements in ensuring that all those who attend court receive the support they require is obvious. Only 60% overall (68% of victims and 46% of witnesses) of those who attended court reported having received support.

“This is not just a numbers game; it is about the individuals affected by crime feeling heard, supported, and informed throughout the entirety of the legal process. I am calling on the Justice Minister to conduct a thorough review of our current support and communication mechanisms, addressing the gaps identified in this data."