Victim personal statements in managing victims’ voices in sentencing in Northern Ireland: taking a more procedural justice approach
Victim personal statements (VPS) have been introduced in a number of common law criminal justice systems. Although they have been espoused as important in ensuring victims’ ‘voices’ are ‘heard’ in sentencing, this article examines the extent of improving victim satisfaction and procedural justice in Northern Ireland. In light of increasing juridification of victim participation through the VPS by the EU and the English Court of Appeal, its impact on sentencing has received mixed views amongst victims, intermediaries and legal practitioners. Drawing from 24 interviews with judges, lawyers and intermediaries, this article finds that greater attention should be paid to vulnerable victims’ inclusion and that judges should better articulate the impact the VPS has on sentencing and the significance of such statements in acknowledging the victim’s experience, rather than engendering harsher sentences.