The Criminal Justice System (CJS) is one of the major public services in the country. Across the CJS, agencies such as the Police, the Courts, the Prison Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Probation Service work together to deliver the criminal justice process. The work of these agencies is overseen by three government departments: the Home Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department for Constitutional Affairs. These departments and agencies are working together to reform and improve the criminal justice system in order to: ?
Prevent and detect more crime ?Give victims and witnesses more support ?Punish and rehabilitate more offenders The Local Criminal Justice Boards lead on key priorities for reducing crime and administering justice on a regional basis. Specifically, the LCJB is charged with local delivery of the following CJS objectives: ? Improving the delivery of justice; ?Improving the service provided to victims and witnesses; and ? Improving public confidence The CJS is divided to many areas such as Victim, Witness, Defendant, Offender, and Juror. _Victim: That’s anyone who has been affected by crime.
Being a victim of a crime can be difficult and confusing experience. The victim personal statement adds to the information you have already given to the police in your statement about the crime. It gives you a chance to tell the police about any support you might need and how the crime has affected you for example, the crime could have affected you physically, emotionally or financially. You should only make a victim personal statement if you want to. You do not have to make a personal statement straight away, you can always ask the police to help you make one later on.
If you make a victim personal statement, it will become part of the case papers. This means that it will be seen by everybody involved with your case for example, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the defence, and the magistrates and judges at the courts. This will enable staff to provide you with help you might need to enable you to take part throughout the case. _Witness: Witnesses play a vital role in helping the Police to solve crimes and deliver justice. The criminal justice system cannot work without them. You may be asked to give evidence as a witness if you:
?Know something about a crime or incident ?Are a victim of crime ?Have specialist knowledge of a subject (Expert witness) ?You know one of the people involved in the case (in which case you could be called as a character witness). Many people are unsure about what happens in a criminal case and may feel anxious about coming forward or giving evidence in court. An interactive virtual tour provides witnesses with information about the criminal justice system process. If you witness a crime you may be asked to give a witness statement.
This is your written or video-recorded account of what happened. It may be used as evidence in court, so the police will ask you if there are any dates in the future when you are certain you will not be able to attend court, for example hospital appointments or long trips abroad. In most cases, the police officer will write an account of what you have said, which you will be asked to sign. If the offence has just happened, officers can ask you to tour the nearby area with them to help identify the offender, or they may ask you to look at photographs to try and pick the offender out.
_Defendant: When someone is accused of a crime, they are called a defendant. In England and Wales anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the courts. If the courts find the defendant guilty and convict them, that person is called an offender. ? Arrest: Serious crimes such as theft, burglary and most assaults carry a power of arrest. This means that if the police suspect someone has committed such a crime, they can take the suspect to a police station to be detained and, if necessary, be questioned about the offence in a tape recorded interview.
Once the suspect is at the police station he or she will be told their rights and asked if they want a solicitor to represent them. It is up to the suspect to decide whether or not they do. If the suspect is under 17 the police must find an “appropriate adult” to be present during any interview. The adult will usually be a parent, family member, carer or social worker. The police will then interview the suspect. If they decide they have enough evidence to consider charging the suspect, the police must then decide whether the case is one that they can charge themselves or whether it requires the approval of a Crown Prosecutor.
In less serious, straightforward cases where the suspect admits the offence, the police are permitted to charge the suspect without first referring the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). In all other cases a Crown Prosecutor must review the case, decide on the correct charge and give their approval to the suspect being charged. Once a suspect has been charged they must appear before a magistrates’ court. The police have to decide whether to release them on bail or whether they should be taken to court in custody.
In England and Wales a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court and so should not be kept in custody before trial unless there are good reasons for doing so. ? Charging: In most cases, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will decide whether to charge a person with a criminal offence, and will determine the appropriate charge or charges. In some more minor or routine cases, the police determine the charge. When deciding whether a case should be prosecuted in the courts, Crown Prosecutors consider the alternatives to prosecution in appropriate circumstances.
This includes a simple caution for adults or, for youths, a reprimand or warning. When information about a case is received from the police, a Crown Prosecutor will read the papers and decide whether or not there is enough evidence against the defendant and if it is in the public interest to bring that person to court. In most circumstances they then release the defendant on bail, with a bail sheet that states where and when they should attend court to answer the charge against them.
In some cases, such as where the defendant is thought to be dangerous, bail may be refused and the defendant is kept in custody until their first court appearance. ? Bail: Bail can be granted by the courts or the police. Where bail is granted, the person released from custody until the next date when they attend court or the police station. If bail is refused, this will be because the police or the court believes that, if released on bail the person will abscond (not turn up to court), commit an offence, interfere with witnesses or otherwise interfere with the criminal justice process.
_Offender: An offender is someone who has been found guilty of committing a crime. ? Sentencing: When an offender is convicted following a trial or guilty plea, the court has a range of sentencing options available. These depend on the type, the seriousness and the circumstances of the crime and the maximum penalty available by law. ? Prison: For the most serious offences the court may impose a prison, or ‘custodial’, sentence. The length of sentence imposed by the court will be limited by the maximum penalty for that crime.
_Juror: Around 450,000 people are randomly selected every year for jury service, and go on to play a vital role in the legal system. ? Jury Service: Jury service is one of the most important civic duties that anyone can be asked to perform. You do not need any knowledge of the legal system to be a juror. The experiences and knowledge of each person summoned to serve will differ, yet each individual juror will be asked to consider the evidence presented and then decide whether the defendant is guilty or not.
? Summoning: Jurors are chosen at random from the electoral roll to serve on a jury – their job is to decide the outcome of a trial. A jury is always made up of 12 people selected by computer from a cross-section of our society. They are asked to take an impartial approach to the case to ensure that a fair trial takes place. If summoned, you are legally required to serve on a jury unless you are ineligible for, or disqualified from, jury service. ? Arriving: Once you have confirmed your service you will receive further information, including details on how to get to the court and the facilities available.
? Jury Assembly Area: The jury assembly area is a room in the courthouse where jurors have to ? check-in’ at the start of their service. On your first day of jury service you need to bring pages 1 and 2 of your summons and some identification. ? Trial: 12 of the people called into the courtroom will serve as jurors on the trial. These 12 are chosen at random by the court clerk. The remaining jurors will be escorted back to the jury assembly area to join others not currently sitting on a trial and will then be eligible for selection for another trial, if needed.