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Children are being failed by criminal justice agencies, report finds

22 February 2017

A teenage girl looking out the window

A report launched today by the Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove has found criminal justice agencies are failing to meet their obligations to children under the Victims’ Code and highlights a need for the Code to be fully monitored and enforced.

Many of the young people interviewed for the review, who had all experienced violent or sexual crimes, reported feeling let down by the criminal justice system. Their experiences include:

As well as a lack of information about their cases, many also felt they weren’t taken seriously or weren’t believed by the police, social workers or their teachers.

Gemma's story

Gemma, 17, felt she wasn’t taken seriously when she reported an assault to the police.

‘They didn’t care because we were three teenage girls. It’s like we were wasting their time, they couldn’t be bothered with us.

‘I feel like I was being judged. All of the other victims were boys. I was the only girl, but from behind I probably looked like a boy. They didn’t believe me because they said up ‘til now he has only attacked boys.

‘I said I want to know if he’s been caught to put me at ease and they said they will let me know but I’ve never heard anything.’ 

Suffering in silence

The findings support our 2014 report, Suffering in Silence, which found crimes against children are significantly underreported and young victims of crime feel they’re less likely to be taken seriously than adults.

Lucy Hastings, Director at Victim Support, said:

‘Children who have been a victim of crime deserve to be believed by the police and treated with compassion and sensitivity.

Victim Support research shows that crime experienced by children is significantly underreported and children feel they aren’t taken as seriously as adults.

‘This report highlights that criminal justice agencies are failing to meet their obligations to children under the Victims’ Code. As a result, children are being left in the dark about the progress of their case and are not being informed of the special measures available to them.

‘Victim Support believes it’s crucial that the Victims’ Code is fully monitored and enforced to ensure that child victims get the support they need and are treated with the respect they deserve throughout the criminal justice system.’

The Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, said:

‘These children and young victims feel let down by the system that is meant to protect them. It is time attitudes towards them were changed.

‘I want to see agencies working together to make sure young and vulnerable victims feel supported through the criminal justice process.

‘They deserve to be taken seriously, for their allegations to be thoroughly investigated and to be treated with dignity and respect.’

Getting support

Children and young people affected by crime can access free and confidential help and support through You & Co.

If you're a parent or carer and your child has been affected by crime, find out how we can support you.

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