What Did We Discover?
Our first research question was: What are the experiences of people involved in the criminal justice system within the area covered by the Diocese of Leeds?
Here are the themes that emerged from our research:
CARE, SUPPORT AND MERCY One of the strongest themes we found in the evidence was support, empathy and compassion for the people within the criminal justice system. There is an intention in many parts of the system to be supportive and to consider the needs of victims, prisoners, ex-offenders and their families.
FUNDING AND RESOURCES Lack of or insecure funding was mentioned as a problem by nearly all participants, along with the term ‘austerity’, referring to cuts in government spending: the national budget of the Ministry of Justice in 2019-20 was about 25% lower after adjusting for inflation than it was in 2010-11. This fall in resources has affected all areas of the criminal justice system.
COHESION AND COMPLEXITY The complexity of the criminal justice system as a whole, and the lack of cohesion between the various agencies, was frequently mentioned as a difficulty for all concerned.
ADDICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, and WELLBEING Addiction and mental health were frequently cited as issues crucial to understanding and supporting the criminal justice system. They were mentioned in a variety of ways: as a mitigating or causal factor in criminal behaviour, as something that the various agencies are struggling to deal with, and as an issue that the wider public is increasingly aware of.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE Restorative Justice is a process where victims and offenders can communicate following an offence via letters or a meeting. This gives an opportunity for the victim to discuss the harm done to them, or ask questions. The offender can better understand the impact of their actions and has a chance to explain their behaviour to the victim. This is not said to be a well-known concept amongst the general public but it receives considerable attention in Catholic reports on criminal justice.
Find out more in the full report.