Evaluation of pre-sentence restorative justice pathfinder

Restorative Solutions have published ICPR's report on the evaluation of the pre-sentence restorative justice (RJ) pathfinder. The evaluation, which was conducted over the period February 2014 to May 2015, found that pre-sentence RJ can provide significant support to victims and help them to cope with and recover from their experiences of victimisation. The main message from the pathfinders is that victims do benefit from this intervention with support from trained and skilled practitioners.

However, it needs to be recognised that the pathfinders were launched at a time of considerable transformation across the criminal justice system. Each pathfinder succeeded in introducing new systems and processes, and these successes reflected, in part, the great commitment of numerous volunteer practitioners who helped victims to meet their offenders to repair the harm that had been done.

Pre-sentence RJ is at an early stage of development, and has the potential to reduce re-offending behaviour and to generate savings for government as its usage increases. More now needs to be done to increase awareness of pre-sentence RJ, and to help to ensure its availability across England and Wales.

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Report on advocacy in youth proceedings

Today the Bar Standards Board and CILEx Regulation have published ICPR's review of advocacy in youth proceedings. The review considered the quality of advocacy in youth proceedings and the core components of effective advocacy, with a view to informing the Bar Standard Board's consideration of whether regulatory interventions are required to improve standards of youth advocacy. The research activities comprised a survey of 215 advocates; interviews with 96 stakeholders, including advocates, young people, youth court magistrates, and court-based YOT workers; and observations in four youth courts and five Crown Courts across England and Wales. The report concluded that the work of advocates in youth proceedings cannot be viewed in isolation from its wider legal, institutional and cultural context, and presents recommendations aimed at promoting more effective advocacy. These recommendations are focused on systems and structures of youth proceedings which could support better advocacy; court-based facilitators of advocacy; and training and learning opportunities for advocates.

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New publication on experiences of the Crown Court

Structured mayhem: Personal experiences of the Crown Court, by Jessica Jacobson, Gillian Hunter and Amy Kirby, has been published by the Criminal Justice Alliance. This is a digest of ICPR's research into what it is like to attend Crown Court as a victim, witness or defendant - published in full earlier this year as Inside Crown (Policy Press).

'Structured mayhem' describes the elaborate, ritualised and - in many respects - archaic nature of proceedings in the Crown Court. It argues that these proceedings can be bewildering and alienating for victims, witnesses and defendants alike. Court proceedings have many elements of theatre, within which the legal professionals, and particularly defence and prosecution part, play the starring roles. In contrast, victims, witnesses and defendants tend to play only minor parts.

'Structured mayhem' includes a series of recommendations for the Ministry of Justice, HM Courts and Tribunals Service and other agencies, which are aimed at improving the experience of court uses and enhancing public confidence in the criminal justice system.

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World Female Imprisonment List (third edition)

More than 700,000 women and girls are held in penal institutions throughout the world, according to the third edition of the World Female Imprisonment List, researched and compiled by Roy Walmsley and published by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research. The analysis indicates that female prison population levels have grown much faster than male prison population levels since around the year 2000, with the number of women and girls in prison increasing by 50% in the past 15 years. The study provides information for almost all countries in the world about the female prison population, the percentage of the total prison population they comprise and the rate per 100,000 of the national population. It also includes information about trends in female imprisonment.

The World Female Imprisonment List shows that more than 200,000 imprisoned women and girls are in the USA (205,400) and more than 100,000 are in China (103,766 plus an unknown number in pre-trial or administrative detention). The next highest totals are in the Russian Federation (53,304), Thailand (44,751), Brazil (37,380), Vietnam (20,553), India (18,188) and Mexico (13,400).

Current indications are that female prison population levels have not only grown sharply in recent years; they have grown much faster than male prison population levels. It is provisionally estimated that the total world prison population has increased by around 20% since 2000, compared to the approximately 50% increase in the overall number of imprisoned women and girls. More information will be available in the forthcoming eleventh edition of the World Prison Population List.

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ICPR's latest book 'Inside Crown Court' is published

Research conducted by Jessica Jacobson, Gillian Hunter and Amy Kirby at the Institute for Policy Research (ICPR) at Birkbeck, University of London has found that appearing in the Crown Court - as a victim, witness or defendant - is often frightening, frustrating and upsetting for participants. The study provides a vivid description of what it is like to attend Crown Court, be it as a victim, defendant, witness, member of staff, judge or barrister. It outlines the interplay between the various participants and extent to which the court process is viewed as legitimate by those involved in it. The book will be launched this evening in the Royal Courts of Justice.

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