The Sentencing Advisory Council has released a report that indicates people’s perceptions of crime can predict how confident they are in the courts and the legal system.
Predictors of Confidence: Community Views in Victoria is the fourth paper in a series about findings from a national survey that canvassed community views on issues to do with crime, the courts and sentencing. The report examines levels of confidence in the courts and sentencing, based on responses from 1,200 survey respondents.
The study found that respondents were moderately confident in the courts and in judges’ ability to impose appropriate sentences. In the study, victims of crime were found to have the lowest level of confidence and people who did not perceive that crime levels had been increasing were found to have the highest levels.
The study also suggests that confidence in the courts is improving, with 59% of respondents in this survey saying they were fairly confident or very confident in the courts and the legal system. This is compared to a 2003 Australian study in which 70% of respondents reported not very much or no confidence in the courts and legal system.
This is the fourth report in the Council’s research series on community views of sentencing in Victoria. All four reports show that community attitudes to sentencing are complex and influenced by an inter-related group of factors including people’s feelings about crime rates, their sources of information on crime, and their level of punitiveness.