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Offending and Justice

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What is the Criminal Justice System?

“The criminal justice system consists of a collection of agencies that are responsible for upholding the law in the interests of all citizens. Specifically, it is concerned with:

 

  • The prevention, investigation, and detection of crime.
  • The gathering of evidence in connection with criminal activities.
  • The arrest, charging and trial of offenders.
  • The punishment of those found guilty of a criminal act.
  • The delivery of the sentence handed out by a court.
  • The provision of support to prevent offenders from re-offending.
  • Ensuring that the needs of victims are adequately catered for.”

(Source: Peter Joyce, 2009, Criminology and Criminal Justice)

Within this topic, the criminal justice system encompasses, the Adult Justice System (including Policing, Courts, Prisons, Probation, Parole) and the Youth Justice System (including Diversion, Youth Courts, Youth Custody, YOS/Ts). Specific rights and services exist for Victims and Witnesses of crime. Areas of relevance include Diversionary Schemes / Out of Court Disposals and other interventions to prevent or reduce reoffending, including Restorative Justice, Women’s Programmes, and Integrated Offender Management.


Criminal Justice in Wales

The criminal justice system, including legal jurisdiction of England and Wales is reserved and non devolved. Therefore, criminal justice in Wales including responsibility for the police, courts, prisons and probation in Wales rests with the UK Parliament and Government. However, the Welsh Parliament and Government has many powers that overlap with the delivery of the justice system. These include safeguarding, mental health and substance misuse services, education and skills training relating to the rehabilitation of offenders, and the provision of housing to offenders being resettled in the community.

Furthermore, the Welsh Government works closely with criminal justice agencies to support safer communities, including via the Wales Safer Communities Network, Criminal Justice in Wales group (previously the All Wales Criminal Justice Board) and the Policing Partnership Board for Wales, which discusses and advises on policing issues. Police Community Support Officers are funded by Welsh Government to support safer communities. In addition, cross-governmental partnership plans exist to support female offenders and young offenders in or at risk of entering the criminal justice system (read more on our sub-topic pages about Women’s Programmes and Youth Justice).

Notably, the Commission on Justice in Wales report was published in 2019. The Commission’s task was to review the operation of the justice system in Wales and set a long-term vision for its future. It concluded that “the people of Wales both need and deserve a better system. Justice is not an island and should be truly integrated into policies for a just, fair and prosperous Wales.”

To read the programme of work and key messaging from the All Wales Criminal Justice Board click on the links below.

Work Programme for 2021-2022

Key Messaging from March 2022

Key Messaging from December 2022

Legislation relevant to different areas of the justice system can be found under each topic.


Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of crime, please report it to the Police. Call 101 or report it online depending on your region of Wales – South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys Police, Gwent Police or North Wales Police. In an emergency, call 999.

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, use the Police textphone service 18000 or text on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

If you have information about crime and wish to remain anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

If you’ve been affected by crime, you can access support from Victim Support, including via their national 24/7 supportline for free on 08 08 16 89 111, or get support online.

For more specialist help and support, visit the Topics sections of our website.