HMICFRS: Impact of the pandemic on the Criminal Justice System (January 2021)
Response from: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Hampshire
While Hampshire Constabulary was not a part of this thematic inspection, we value the findings and outcomes, and any learning points on which we can implement. The global Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted upon both service delivery and accessibility for the majority of us. The world of policing and the CJS is experiencing unprecedented challenges as highlighted in the report. The continued efforts of policing colleagues and partners to ensure the system keeps moving as much as possible is applauded. However, over 12 months down the line since the first national lockdown and we are seeing “significant backlogs in the Crown Court in particular, and the ripple effects these are having on all parts of the system are problems which must be tackled now.”
Even pre-COVID, we know there is wide recognition that the investigation and court process for a victim can be lengthy and unsettling. We hear in the report “inspectors found numerous examples of serious cases that had been cancelled at short notice, despite the offences having taken place a long time before. Police officers and staff at all levels expressed significant concerns about the backlog of cases and its impact on victims and witnesses.”
Here across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight all victims of a crime have access to Victim Support, whether they report a crime to the police or not. It is important that we keep victims central to decision making, even in these challenging times. While the report notes “The system was already facing significant failings. The pandemic has intensified these.” Here in Hampshire we continue to work across the CJS partnerships, ensuring we play our part and deliver front line services.
We hear the pressures from across the National Probation Service, across youth offending services, the need for more staff to clear the back-log of cases, and support the increase caseloads seen across the CJS. Our teams, our partnerships continue to do all they can to keep our communities safe.
No recommendations were made, however the OPCC will continue to monitor the areas highlighted by HMICFRS in relation to the CJS and the impact upon victims and policing resource.