The Centre for Justice Innovation is proud to announce the launch of a pioneering study examining the barriers faced by those who have limited English skills when in contact with the criminal justice system. This is the first large-scale research of its kind in the UK.
We will be working with, The Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck College, University of London, national charity Victim Support to examine national policy and data as well as looking at the individual experiences of victims, suspects and offenders in Leeds and London. This project is supported by The Bell Foundation, a charity which aims to change practice, policy and systems for people in the UK who are excluded through language.
The project will provide insight into the experiences of people with English as an additional language who are victims of crime or are otherwise in contact with the criminal justice system. The project will also identify ways of addressing language barriers within the justice system.
Stephen Whitehead, Head of Evidence and Data, said:
“Research has proven that when people feel fairly treated by the justice system they are more likely to comply with the law in future. But little is known about how having English as an additional language impacts on that feeling. This pioneering research will give us as chance to hear first-hand from people with English as an additional language about their interactions with the justice system. We will use those insights to create practical resources for practitioners in the justice system on how to improve their communication.”
Dr Jessica Jacobson, Director of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck, University of London, said:
“This promises to be an innovative and original study, which will incorporate the voices of individuals with English as an additional language who have come into contact with the criminal justice system in any way: whether as victims, witnesses, suspects, defendants, or convicted offenders.”
In addition to interviewing victims, witnesses, suspects and offenders, the researchers will carry out a national survey of Victim Support staff and volunteers, examine existing policy and research, and interview national stakeholders and local practitioners.
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I welcome this innovative new research and will be keeping a close eye on the results. There should be no barriers to both victims and witnesses accessing appropriate support, ultimately helping to ensure justice is being served.”
This project will aim to ensure that the needs of people with EAL are recognised in the policy agenda as well as creating resources which will increase the capacity of frontline practitioners to provide effective support.
More information about the Centre's work on improving fairness can be found here.
Our briefing paper on young people's experience of youth court can be read here.