25 January 2019 ‘Righting a Wrong: What does it mean for a victim to access justice in a criminal trial?’

University of Leeds Historical Criminology seminar.

Prof Pamela Cox and and Dr Ruth Lamont


The status and role of the victim in the prosecution of crime through the criminal trial has varied greatly over time. The rights available to the defendant in a criminal trial are often the focus of current procedural protections, whereas the role of the criminal trial in providing justice for the wrongs suffered by the victim of crime can often be a lesser feature of the modern legal and broader justice system. Attempts to secure the status of the victim in the trial process and sentencing have sought to secure the interests of the victim, but the success of these procedures remains contested. The interdisciplinary ESRC funded research project ‘Victims: Access to Justice through the English Criminal Courts’, led by Professor Pamela Cox, explores the patterns of victims’ access to justice over three centuries, tracking the rights, resources and services available to victims. These have altered significantly as the role of the victim in making a complaint and pursuing the prosecution has evolved. Increasing legalisation and bureaucratisation in the prosecution of crime has arguably led the victim further away from the centre of this process with fewer resources available to them. In this paper, we aim to explore what it means for a victim to access justice and how this can be conceptualised for the purposes of both modern and historical analysis. We will explore some of the current challenges presented to victims in accessing the court by appropriately resourcing victims in their historical context to consider how the victim may be said to have received justice for a criminal wrong.

For details contact: Dr David Churchill