New report calls for major reform to how the performance of the criminal justice system is measured.

Includes polling in which public show support for early intervention over punitive measures to cut crime.

A new research report from Crest Advisory (All on the same side – rethinking how we measure performance in the criminal justice system) has set out inherent failures in the way the criminal justice system is set up, defined by conflicting objectives between justice agencies, input orientated measures for success and how closed off the system is to the public. It calls for a shared vision of what success in the criminal justice system looks like to avoid agencies working to conflicting objectives and for more information to be made available to the public about how key agencies are performing.

The key findings of the report:

  • The current system for measuring the effectiveness in criminal justice is not fit for purpose and is characterised by siloed (and often conflicting) objectives, input-oriented measures and a lack of transparency to the public
  • There is a strong appetite for reform from both police and crime commissioners and the general public. Police and crime commissioners feel the system lacks an overall purpose with clear and locally agreed outcomes
  • New technology presents huge opportunities to improve the efficiency of the system, but major structural barriers to reform remain, including the inability of police and crime commissioners to access key performance data about the police, courts and other agencies
  • A new framework for measuring effectiveness would include a limited set of shared outcomes set nationally, with local areas given much greater discretion for how those outcomes are achieved
  • The public is much less punitive than is often imagined – a large majority thinks the best way to cut crime is through better prevention, rather than prison and/ or more arrests

The report’s author, Harvey Redgrave, Director of Strategy at Crest Advisory said;

“The criminal justice system currently operates like a failing football team; the players aren’t clear which goal they’re aiming at, too often they won’t pass the ball to each other and insist on playing their matches behind closed doors so nobody knows the final score. You know your team is doing well when they win games and get promoted. But when it comes to the criminal justice system, there is virtually no clarity about what ‘good’ looks like and the information that is available about performance is limited and uncoordinated. We know there is appetite for reform, particularly from police and crime commissioners and from the public. It is time for clarity as to precisely what it is we want our criminal justice system to achieve.

“As part of our research we also polled the public on their views on the criminal justice system, many of which are surprising. Yes, people told us they want more police, but they also said they want the system to be efficient, with efforts to cut crime focused on early intervention measures like better parenting and action in schools rather than simply locking people up. Less than one in ten think prison is the way to cut crime.”

Report’s recommendations:

  • A single shared vision for public services that cut crime, keep people safe and improve public confidence, with outcomes focused on prevention, swift justice, punishment and rehabilitation, legitimacy and victims
  • Tackling the problem of agencies including the police, Crown Prosecution Service, prisons and probation working to overly prescriptive, input-based targets with nationally set outcomes, with local discretion over how those outcomes are achieved
  • Local outcome improvement plans should replace police and crime plans in areas with mayors to improve local collaboration between wider public services such as health, housing, education and family support as well as criminal justice agencies
  • The publication of force-wide scorecards providing comparative information on effectiveness across the criminal justice system to provide a clear, publicly accessible understanding of what ‘good’ looks like

The report includes polling of a representative sample of 2,000* members of the public were asked about the criminal justice system. It found:

  • Public attitudes are less punitive than is often assumed. Asked about the best ways to cut crime; 42% support more police on the streets, 41% better parenting, 33% better discipline in schools, 33% better rehabilitation of offenders. Just 8% say the police arresting more people, only 7% say prison cuts crime
  • When asked about the most important objective of the criminal justice system, the public prioritise efficiently and quickly bringing offenders to justice (32%) and a fair system that treats everyone equally (26%) over both reducing crime (13%) and looking after the needs of victims (8%)
  • Public protection/safety is deemed the most important measure of criminal justice performance; 65% say keeping public safe from dangerous offenders is the most important aspect, 47% support sentences from judges that both punish and rehabilitate offenders
  • The public perceive the criminal justice system currently performs best in terms of guaranteeing a fair trial (36% deem it an aspect of criminal justice provided ‘very well’ locally), and worst in terms of preventing crime (42% say it is provided ‘not well at all’) and ensuring offenders are made to pay back for their crimes (40% say it is provided ‘not well at all’)
  • The public are uninformed; 25% said they receive no information about local justice services. The public deem it important to be informed about local justice performance – 96% of those polled deemed it very important or important to be kept informed of how the Police are doing in their local area – only 50% feel informed about how the police is doing

Full report is available@

Share this post