Maximising victim participation and engagement

Published: March 25, 2020

Research to better understand the low level of attendance by victims in youth justice processes in New Zealand and what might improve victim participation in our justice system.


Research suggests that justice outcomes are improved when victims participate in the process, particularly in restorative justice processes. Maximising victim participation and engagement reviewed literature and evidence describing the experiences of:

  • victims of youth crime dealt with through the family group conferences (FGC) process or the Youth Court
  • youth victims of all crime
  • Māori victims of youth crime and all crime.

The report is the result of a time-limited review of literature from New Zealand and internationally. Overseas FGC models are often based on the New Zealand system.

Key findings

  • While there is limited research on improving the participation and engagement of victims in the FGC process, the following factors seem important:
    • allowing sufficient time and resource for victims to consider whether they wish to participate in an FGC
    • allowing sufficient time and resource to prepare victims for FGC, and that face-to-face support is offered
    • logistics that accommodate victims in terms of scheduling, location/venue and any necessary modifications to FGC
    • skills and experience of coordinators, and police training and collaboration o Follow up with victims after the FGC.
  • Aspects that better support young victims of crime include avoiding excessive delay in court proceedings, looking at alternatives to giving testimony personally in court, and training in child-friendly justice for police, judges and other court staff.
  • There was little research available on the experiences of Māori victims of crime but what emerged was a call for Māori victims to be supported by people skilled in tikanga, and for kaupapa Māori processes such as hohourongo (bringing about peace through the healing of violation) to be considered.
  • There is a significant gap in the literature around victim-centred justice, particularly in youth justice, with the most recent New Zealand work published in 2004. There is also little Māori or indigenous literature on the victim experience. Future research should aim to fill this gap, particularly for young Māori victims of crime.