Written evidence submitted by Criminal Justice Joint Inspection (VIC0029)


  1. This response is submitted on behalf of Criminal Justice Joint Inspection (CJJI), which consists of the four criminal justice inspectorates (of Constabulary; the Crown Prosecution Service; Prisons; and Probation).[1] CJJI welcomes the Justice Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Victims Bill and the opportunity to provide this submission.


  1. The detail of this submission is limited to the proposed clauses about the inspectorates themselves. However, we would also like to make clear our support for improvements to the services and support that victims receive. More broadly, we reiterate the comments made in our recent report, The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the criminal justice system – a progress report,[2] about the need for improvements across the criminal justice system. The publication of the draft Bill is an important and welcome step but without a properly functioning criminal justice system, the experiences of victims will continue to fall far short of the standard they should be able to expect.


  1. There are two clauses in the draft Victims Bill which apply to the inspectorates. The first, clause 11, extends the remit of the Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses to the four Chief Inspectors. The amendment also requires those authorities within the remit of the Commissioner to respond publicly to a recommendation directed to them in an annual report of the Commissioner. We would welcome recommendations from the Commissioner and the transparency that comes with the requirement of a public response.


  1. The second clause which applies to the inspectorates is clause 12. This clause allows the Secretary of State, Lord Chancellor and Attorney General to issue a joint direction requiring a joint inspection programme to include provision for the inspection, at specified times, of specified matters relating to the experiences and treatment of victims.” We recognise that joint inspections can provide unique insights across the criminal justice system and our recent joint thematic work has demonstrated the importance of this in relation to the experiences of victims (see annex). We therefore remain committed to carrying out joint inspection work in relation to victims and our upcoming joint work includes a thematic inspection of the needs of victims across the criminal justice system. We also recognise that a number of stakeholders replying to the consultation, Delivering justice for victims,[3] are of the view that the inspectorates should have a greater focus on victims’ issues.


  1. We therefore understand the rationale behind clause 12. However, we have two comments in relation to the current drafting of the clause. The first is that by allowing the Secretary of State, Lord Chancellor and Attorney General to direct both the timing of an inspection[4] and the matters to be inspected, the clause changes the balance provided by the existing legislative provisions, which require the inspectorates to consult with the Secretary of State and Attorney General before preparing a joint inspection programme. This existing arrangement has balanced the need for Ministers to provide input with the independent expertise of the inspectorates and also allowed the inspectorates to plan and resource inspection programmes. Second, the current drafting does not recognise the importance of the voice of victims being heard in the development of thematic work which relates to their experiences.


  1. We hope this submission will aid the Committee in its consideration of the Bill and are happy to provide any further information that may be useful.


Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (Chair)

Justin Russell, HM Chief Inspector of Probation

Andrew Cayley, HM Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service

Andy Cooke, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services


June 2022

Annex: Previous joint work on the experiences of victims in the criminal justice system (CJS)

Thematic inspections carried out by the CJJI that included a victim focus are listed below.[5]


Meeting the needs of victims in the criminal justice system: A consolidated report by the criminal justice inspectorates (December 2015)[6]

This report compiled findings on the quality of services provided to victims by agencies within the CJS. Despite individual examples of good practice across the sectors, there were unacceptable inconsistencies in the services provided to victims and particular concerns around crimes not being recorded and a lack of empathy shown to some victims.


Evidence led domestic abuse prosecutions – HMCPSI & HMICFRS (January 2020)

This report covered the extent to which the police and the Crown Prosecution Service prepared and built cases with a view to proceeding without the victim if need be, or where the victim had declined to participate. Both organisations were found to have a good understanding of evidence led prosecutions but there were no mechanisms in place to measure their effectiveness which prevented opportunities to learn lessons and share good practice.


Pre-charge bail and released under investigation: striking a balance – HMICFRS & HMPSCI (December 2020)[7]

This report examined how forces used bail and released under investigation (RUI) following legislative changes made by the Policing and Crime Act 2017. Whilst the police had renewed efforts to readdress the balance between protecting victims and the rights of suspects, more could be done to keep at-risk victims safe. For example, when abuse suspects were RUI, domestic violence victims did not receive any of the protections provided by bail conditions.


Impact of the pandemic on the criminal justice system (January 2021)

This report provided a cross-system view of how the criminal justice system reacted in the immediate aftermath of the first national Covid-19 lockdown. The impact of court backlogs on all agencies was of real concern to the inspectorates, particularly given the impact on victims and witnesses who expressed a loss of confidence in the system and became less willing to support cases.


A joint thematic inspection of the police and Crown Prosecution Service’s response to rape - Phase one: From report to police or CPS decision to take no further action – HMICFRS & HMCPSI (July 2021)

The inspectorates traced rape cases through police and CPS files and examined the decisions made and support offered at each stage. They found that while national leads and the Government were committed to improving the experiences of victims in the CJS, efforts to do so at a national level had not made enough difference at a local level. The need for sustained improvements in practice remained.




A joint thematic inspection of the police and Crown Prosecution Service’s response to rape - Phase two: Post-charge – HMICFRS & HMCPSI (February 2022)

The second report examined cases from the point of charge through to their conclusion, including those which were decided in court. Consistent issues with the police and CPS’s management of cases were identified. These were compounded by high workloads and poor communication between the police and CPS and between criminal justice agencies and victims.


The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the criminal justice system – a progress report (published May 2022)

This report followed up on the Impact of the pandemic on the criminal justice system report and examined the successes of the CJS but also the challenges it had and continued to face. It found most agencies were not yet able to recover to their pre-Covid-19 position, resulting in victims facing the prospect of waiting years for justice and losing further confidence in the system.











[1] The existing remit of each Inspectorate is set out in: s. 5A, 43 and sch. A1 of the Prison Act 1952 (HM Inspectorate of Prisons); s. 54 – 56 and sch. 4A of the Police Act 1996 (HM Inspectorate of Constabulary); the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate Act 2000 (HM Inspectorate of the Crown Prosecution Service); and s. 6-7 and sch. 1A of the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act (HM Inspectorate of Probation). 

[2] The report is available at: The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the criminal justice system – a progress report (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk).

[3] Delivering justice for victims: A consultation on improving victims’ experiences of the justice system - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

[4] Although the Explanatory Notes state at para 39 that “It is intended that the direction will specify only for the inspection to take place within a given joint inspection business plan cycle”, the current drafting of the clause would allow Ministers to make a direction at any time. This has the possibility to cause disruption to scheduled regular inspection programmes and to thematic work, including joint work, and may also impede the ability to carry out unannounced inspections in practice.

[5] Reports involve all four inspectorates and can be found on the CJJI website unless otherwise indicated.

[6] https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/cjji/inspections/meeting-the-needs-of-victims-in-the-criminal-justice-system/

[7] https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/pre-charge-bail-and-released-under-investigation-striking-a-balance/