Vera Baird

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Effective Criminal Justice System

Why is an “Effective Criminal Justice System” important?


Our criminal justice system is being placed under increasing pressure with growing demand and ever tighter budgets.

Criminal justice agencies are not accountable to me in my role as PCC, and I have little leverage to drive change. However, I am committed to working closely with the local courts, probation services, youth offending teams, prisons and the Crown Prosecution Service and putting victims at the heart of the process.

We set up a Court Observers Panel to see how those agencies work together and how they work for victims in rape trials, which are especially difficult cases. The results are new but I am determined that they will help to improve local justice. This scrutiny work will continue with a new focus on specialist domestic violence courts.

My Police and Crime Plan Commitment to Putting Victims First


  • Assertive advocacy will be developed that supports individual victims throughout the criminal justice process, challenging systems and procedures that seem to work against the victim interests. We have made a funding application to support this.

  • Ensure that victims are aware of and access special measures, including remote evidence suites at the earliest opportunity to help vulnerable and intimidated witnesses to give their best evidence.

  • Continue to provide robust police evidence in cases progressing through the criminal justice system, especially with the timely provision of CCTV footage.

  • In cases of sexual violence where there is an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser or other trained supporter present that all parties understand the professional nature and scope of the role and ensure further involvement.

  • Provide early intervention to offenders and secure swift justice through effective community resolutions and out of court disposals where appropriate.

  • Support more effective programmes to change offender’s behaviour.

  • Continue to closely monitor and scrutinise work in this area through observing magistrates courts practices, attending the Out of Court Disposal Panel and a range of other activities.

What will be achieved


  • Improved reporting and recording of rape, sexual offences and domestic abuse.

  • Increased charge and conviction rates for cases of rape, sexual offences and domestic abuse.

  • Increased number of guilty pleas at first hearing.

  • Prevention of first time and repeat offending.

As this is a new priority within my 2017/21 Police and Crime Plan I will provide an update in my annual report which will be available to read on the website