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“Vessel of tears” - report welcomed by Victim advocacy group

“The vessel of tears report confirms what the Sensible Sentencing Trust has been saying for many years”

The Safe and Effective Advisory Group Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora have released their first report called A Vessel of Tears. The report is an independent report into the criminal justice system that is failing New Zealanders at all levels and requires transformative change.

The report is also critical of how victims are treated within the system, saying that people have a lack of faith in it, which suggests it is not fit for purpose.

Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) National Spokesperson Jess McVicar says the report has simply confirmed much of what SST has been saying for many years with what victims have to face throughout the justice system, as these issues are well known with those who volunteer and work with victims within the system.
“We have been battling a lot of these issues for years and have been advocating for change, but often come head to head with legislation. This report has uncovered a lot of the New Zealand Justice System dark hidden secrets that those volunteering within it have been saying for a long time existed and needed urgent action.”

Jess says the SST welcomes the reports chapter on victims and hopes some informed decisions are made from it. “The voices of those most effected by crime, the Victims, have finally been listened to"

The report makes note of a Victims Register that notifies victims of any information regarding the offender and any change of circumstance, but the victim must apply to be put onto the register. The report also tells that this often is overlooked by those who are meant to assist the victim with this information.
“Many Victims the Sensible Sentencing Group Trust work with are not aware of the register until the trust becomes involved and help them with the application, this is such an important factor for a victim, we find it appalling that it is so often simply overlooked. The system is impossible to navigate through for victims. ”

SST believes all victims should be automatically registered with the right to opt-off.

Jess says there are many factors in the Justice System that re-vicitimise and leave victims feeling helpless. The government agencies let them down and this is often due to lack of communication and involvement.
“Victims do not get the full support that the Justice System is meant to give them, a lot of their rights are over-ridden to protect the offender or to ensure the offenders human rights are adhered to, this unfortunately means the victim is side-lined.”

Jess says for positive change to happen in a reduction of crime we must focus on prevention, building families and most importantly community safety must be paramount.

“To have fewer victims means reduction in crime and a system that is built round the safety of the community. We cannot just focus on lowering the prison muster without first focusing on the drivers of crime. We must work on prevention of youth offending, building positive family surroundings and a system that protects the people of New Zealand.” Ends


Jess McVicar
National Spokesperson
Sensible Sentencing Trust

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