Public Confidence in the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales: Recent Messages for Policy Makers From Research

David Brown, Home Office

The government in England and Wales has recently set a target to increase the level of public confidence in the CJS. Hitherto, however, there has been little research that has explored what factors are most important in driving the public's confidence in criminal justice. There has indeed been relatively attention to key issues such as what the public understands by the 'CJS' and what the key components of the concept of 'confidence' are. In order to provide policy makers with a sounder basis of knowledge on which to act, the government in England and Wales has recently commissioned a range of research, which is designed to cast light on these important issues. This includes survey work, which has explored public views about the most important priorities of the CJS and sought views about how well these functions were performed, as well as ratings of individual CJS agencies. It also includes focus group studies, designed to explore the dynamics of confidence at local level and to establish why levels of confidence in CJS performance vary significantly between areas. The first results of this research are now becoming available and this paper will explore the emerging findings. The paper will also consuider to what extent the results of the research may have relevance to other countries.

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Updated 05/20/2006