21/11/2019

Safeguarding People at Risk: A Failing Criminal Justice System

UK media presents daily criticisms detailing criminal cases whereby the public or service users have been failed by the very system designed to protect from harm.

The media ‘gaze’ is never far from policing, prison or probation service provision, whereby a failure to protect highlights a fatality. For example, Lisa Skidmore, a nurse aged 37, was strangled, raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender, an inquest heard (Guardian, 2019).

The National Probation Service (responsible for high-risk management) was supervising her killer, who had a history of targeting lone women. Campbell, recently released on license, disclosed to the police and probation service he was ‘noticing open windows’, his known trigger. This should have represented a serious concern, posing as high risk to the general public. They failed in their duty to protect, to perform appropriate checks, to adequately document areas of concern and/or recall him to prison.

This above case is one of many failings by criminal justice agencies prompting a review into service provision and intervention. According to Duxbury & Halinski, (2017) in addition to professional organisations (Police Federation) and NAPO, (Trade Union & Professional Association for Family Court and Probation Staff, 2017) criminal justice agencies have been subjected to frontline workforce austerity and rising caseload demands.

All noted the impact of work-role overload as a source of stress and burnout amongst staff. Thus, following the aftermath of the Government’s report, Transforming the Criminal Justice System (2013), can the public expect a reduction in ‘failing to protect’ cases by the newly proposed ‘blueprints’ of service provision (Webster, 2019), in addition to respecting and valuing the wellbeing of our criminal justice workforce?

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Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
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