Key messages from Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel meetings 2017

27/07/2017

The North West Local Scrutiny involvement Panels (LSIPs) met during April and May.

The three panels look at specific types of hate crime cases racist and religious cases, LGBT cases and disability hate crime cases and crimes against older people.  Each panel is made up of police and community representatives.

Each panel looked at five cases in detail (hate crime cases or domestic abuse and rape cases) and highlighted learning points for both for the CPS and the wider CJS. These learning points are used to improve good practice across the Criminal Justice System.

Racist and Religious Panel

In considering the main learning points from the cases they reviewed, the panel highlighted the importance of:

  • the police being proactive in obtaining a Victim Personal Statement early in the case as the courts might not adjourn a case to allow one to be taken. This is the opportunity for the victim to explain how the offence has affected them and is used if the defendant is found guilty. 
  • detailed hearing record sheets which explain what has happened in court and, for example, detail why a case in which there was a realistic prospect of conviction for a prosecution does not result in a conviction at a trial.
  • providing clear explanations to a victim or witness about probation orders to help them to have a better understanding what the orders mean in practical terms.

LGBT Panel

The panel highlighted the importance of:

  • Community Impact Statements.  They can be powerful and should be more widely used. They demonstrate to the court the effect not only on an individual but on the wider community. This is especially useful in anti-social behaviour such as drinking on the street.
  • telling the victim in the letter which they receive after the sentence if there is a sentence uplift (increase in sentence because the court recognises the hate crime  element of the offence) and what that uplift is.
  • being aware of the impact of asking a victim or witness to attend court on a number of occasions and for the case to be adjourned each time.  In those circumstances a victim is less likely to support the prosecution.

Disability / Older Person Panel

The panel highlighted the importance of:

  • Obtaining Victim Personal Statements as soon as possible so that the feelings of the victim and the impact of the offence are put before the court.
  • A clear explanation in the review of why the reviewing lawyer considers the alleged offence is a disability hate crime.
  • exploring and carefully assessing the capacity for understanding which victims suffering from dementia may have and considering ways in which they can be assisted to give their views.
  • where a victim has learning difficulties, establishing the particular impact that their learning difficulties has on them, so that their specific needs can be considered.