14. Conclusion

Table of contents

  1. 14.1 At the start of Part Two of this consultation paper, the Commission outlined three possible roles for victims in the criminal trial process:
  • protected witness
  • participating witness
  • prosecuting witness.
  1. 14.2 The following chapters then considered a range of reform initiatives and proposals, many of which necessarily involve legislative change. However, as has been noted throughout this consultation paper, simply changing the law may not of itself address the underlying causes, nor the symptoms of, victim dissatisfaction with the criminal trial process.
  2. 14.3 Research and experience has shown that what is also required is a change in culture, practice and attitudes.1 If legislative reforms are not accompanied by operational and cultural change within the legal profession and the judiciary,2 they may fail to achieve desired outcomes, and may even exacerbate victim disillusionment and harm.3 For instance, the prohibition (referred to in [8.45]) on unduly intimidating or humiliating questions to witnesses is informed by judicial and professional attitudes to what constitutes undue intimidation or humiliation.
  3. 14.4 It is also clear that the broader cultural and societal context in which the criminal justice system is set is integral to the success or otherwise of reform initiatives.4 If proposed law reform fails to address the broader social and cultural context of the issue it is intended to address, its prospects for success may be compromised from the outset.5
  4. 14.5 The Commission therefore welcomes submissions to this review which consider cultural issues alongside legislative change.
  5. 14.6 You can provide input into the Commission’s review by responding to the specific questions posed throughout the paper. These questions are also included at the back of this paper. You may also contribute more generally to the overarching question, ‘What should be the role of victims in the criminal trial process?’ To allow the Commission time to consider your views before deciding on final recommendations, submissions are due by 30 September 2015.

 

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