Challenges of effective communication in the criminal justice process: findings from interviews with victims of sexual offences in Australia
Davies, R and Bartels, L, Challenges of effective communication in the criminal justice process: findings from interviews with victims of sexual offences in Australia, Laws, 9, (4) pp. 1-23. ISSN 2075-471X (2022) [Refereed Article]
This article focuses on gendered experiences of the criminal justice system, specifically the experiences of adult female victims of sexual offending and the communication difficulties they experience during the criminal justice process. Drawing on the findings from qualitative interviews about sentencing with six victims and 15 justice professionals in Australia, we compare the lived experiences of the victims with the perceptions of the justice professionals who work with them, revealing a significant gap between the information justice professionals believe they are providing and the information victims recall receiving. We then analyse the international literature to distil effective communication strategies, with the goal of improving victims' experiences of the criminal justice system as a whole. Specifically, we recommend verbal communication skills training for justice professionals who work with victims of crime and the development of visual flowcharts to help victims better understand the criminal justice process. We also recommend that Australian victims' rights regimes be reformed to place the responsibility for providing information about the criminal process on the relevant justice agencies, rather than requiring the victim to seek this information, and suggest piloting automated notification systems to help agencies fulfil their obligations to provide victims with such information.
victim, victim impact statement, sentencing, sexual offences, victims’ needs, victims’ rights, communication, Australia