15 March 2022
Gaps in language support create barriers to accessing justice and rehabilitation, new research finds
A new report, Language barriers in the criminal justice system, carried out by Victim Support, the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), the Centre for Justice Innovation and funded by The Bell Foundation, found victims who speak English as a second or additional language (ESL) often struggled to communicate important information to law enforcement and were not given the language support they needed during crucial encounters with the criminal justice system.
In one example, an alleged perpetrator who spoke English as a first language was able to interrupt conversations between the victim and police, causing confusion, and resulting in the victim being mistakenly arrested for the crime she was trying to report. Victim Support say this is a particularly concerning experience amongst the ESL victims it supports.
The right to free language support when reporting a crime or being interviewed by the police is stipulated in the Victim’s Code of Practice – which sets out how victims should be treated during interactions with the criminal justice system. However, the research found this right is not always being upheld. […]