On 2nd December 2019, the Department of Justice and Equality launched the findings from an international literature review on confidence in criminal justice systems.
Undertaken to assist policy formation in the department, the review sought to address a range of questions relating to how public confidence in the criminal justice system is measured in different countries, what drives that confidence, and what measures have been deployed to improve it.
Having analysed 168 unique journal articles and 17 government reports, the key findings identified by the researchers included that:
- Confidence and trust in justice is clearly a multidimensional concept
- It is important to differentiate between dimensions of fairness and effectiveness when dealing with performance
- Those dimensions need to be assessed across all parts of the system, i.e. police, courts, prisons and probation
- It is important to differentiate between confidence at local and national level
- It is helpful to measure levels of confidence comparatively – against other public bodies
- Because of the complexity of the concept, it is important not to treat findings of public opinion surveys in the area uncritically
The report, which was prepared by Professor Claire Hamilton and Dr. Lynsey Black of Maynooth University, was launched by the Research and Data Analytics unit in the Department.
It is the second in a series of pieces of research that have been commissioned by the Research and Data Analytics unit and builds on the Department’s commitment, outlined in the 2018-2020 Data and Research Strategy, to support the development of more evidence-informed policy making.
Focusing on the question of how confidence in criminal justice systems is best conceptualised and operationalised, the report draws on both government-commissioned reports and peer-reviewed studies published in journals to provide a comprehensive picture of how public confidence is measured in national surveys and in the academic literature. It goes on to explore the high-level trends and patterns in public confidence/trust in the criminal justice system and its constituent parts, both in Ireland and internationally in recent decades.
The report is available here: