Fourth Discussion Document
This Fourth Discussion Document - 'The Community and the Criminal Justice System' (PDF - 933KB) is the fourth and final discussion document to be published in the process leading to a White Paper on Crime.
As was the case with the previous discussion documents in the series, this document is aimed at the general reader and comprises a non-specialist overview of the issues, together with a number of questions to assist in shaping discussion and feedback.
The document looks at the range of interactions between the public and the criminal justice system.
This document considers how:
- the criminal justice system can best meet public expectations in protecting communities and responding to crime
- community engagement with the criminal justice system can be strengthened
- the experience of individuals in their interactions with the criminal justice system can be improved.
The commitment in the Programme for Government to enact legislation to strengthen the rights of victims of crime and their families is particularly relevant to this phase of the consultation process.
At the outset the document considers those characteristics which engender public confidence in the criminal justice system and the impact that this has on engagement with, and support of the system. The document further considers public knowledge and awareness of the criminal justice system, including the availability of accurate and current information on the performance of that system.
The role of the media in shaping people’s awareness of crime and criminal justice issues is also examined.
The document next looks at relationships between criminal justice agencies, including An Garda Síochána, and the community. Developments in community policing are described in this section, as well as initiatives which respond to the needs of specific groups within the community.
The document then outlines the various interactions an individual might have with the criminal justice system whether as a victim, witness, suspect, accused, or juror, and the relevant legislative and administrative frameworks.
Examples of the questions flagged for detailed consideration include:
- What works well in the present system to serve members of the public in their direct dealings with the criminal justice system? How can what works well be replicated more widely in the system?
- How can the various parts of the criminal justice system best work together to meet the needs of victims, witnesses and the wider community?
- What measures can be taken to enhance public confidence in the operation of the criminal justice system and its capacity to tackle and to prevent crime and the fear of crime?
- What is the role of legislation in improving the experience of victims of crime in the criminal justice system? What might usefully be included in such legislation?
- How can members of the public be encouraged to play a greater role in responding to crime, whether by providing information, or engaging in local voluntary activity?
- What might be done to improve awareness of the activities of the criminal justice agencies and the services they provide?
Fourth Discussion Document - 'The Community and the Criminal Justice System' - Summary of Consultation Outcomes
In May and June, 2011, the Department of Justice and Equality held a series of regional consultation meetings on themes discussed in the White Paper on Crime discussion document, ‘The Community and the Criminal Justice System’ (June 2011).
The consultation meetings were held in Tralee, Waterford, Limerick, Galway and Dublin and were facilitated by Dr. Barry Vaughan, NESC. The report on the proceedings of these meetings was prepared by the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and was published in August, 2011.
Written submissions were also invited on the themes considered in the discussion document and a report on the submissions received, Fourth Discussion Document - White Paper, was prepared by the Department was published in December, 2011.
Issues raised during the consultation include:
- Confidence in the criminal justice system
- Customer service within the criminal justice system
- Community policing
- Communications with victims and the general public
- Intimidation of victims and witnesses
- Issues of concern to children and other vulnerable victims
- Joint Policing Committees
- Restorative Justice and re-integration of offenders
- White collar crime