Is a lack of public confidence behind Lancashire’s prosecution problem?

A person is being handcuffed.
Two in five investigations fall through (Credit: Pixabay)

The head of a leading victims’ charity has suggested the high number of failed prosecutions could reflect the lack of public confidence in the criminal justice system.

Dianne Fawcett, Chief Officer of independent charity Victim Support, believes confidence in the criminal system is on the decline after it was found over 17,000 cases in Lancashire were dropped between April and September 2018 – the latest period data is available from the Home Office.

In a statement released on Friday, she said: “This rise in the number of witnesses who choose to take no further action in cases where the suspect has been identified could be a reflection of several things.

A photograph of Dianne Fawcett, of Victim Support
Dianne Fawcett has been Chief Officer at Victim Support for a year (Credit: Victim Support)

“Trials can take a long time to complete – around nine months on average – and many victims feel that they want to move on with their lives without prolonged stress a trial may bring. It could also be a reflection of a lack of public confidence in the criminal justice system.

“There are practical issues when it comes to attending trials such as missing work and arranging childcare. Having to travel to court, which can be far due to increasing court closures, can have a financial and emotional impact and this can also deter victims and witnesses.

“The success of the criminal justice system relies upon the co-operation and of victims, and these statistics highlight how vital it is that agencies work to strengthen trust in the process and ensure that victims are supported throughout their journey.”

Lancashire Constabulary, Lancaster Road, Preston

Data from the Home Office revealed that more than two in five investigations in which a suspect was identified had to be dropped after victims refused to help with proceedings.

A Government spokeswoman told the Lancashire Post: “We are working closely with the police to look at ways to help forces better respond to reports of crime. We have also announced the biggest increase in police funding since 2010 and expect to see major progress in investigations as a result. “We remain alert to changes in trends and new methods used by criminals and have taken decisive action to help prevent serious and violent crime taking place, through supporting community-based early intervention projects.”