A STUDY has revealed that many NSW residents feel that criminal sentencing is too lenient and fails to adequately support the victims of crime.
The latest NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report analysed the public's perception of the criminal justice system from 2019, focusing on factors including the rate of various crimes, the treatment of offenders and victims, and the sentencing process as a whole.
While it was found that 74 per cent of those surveyed felt the criminal justice system respected the rights of the accused and treated them fairly, only 44 per cent of people had confidence in the system meeting the needs of victims.
Known as 'the cop from Wagga', Terry O'Connell pioneered the concept of restorative justice in Australia after 30 years with the NSW Police Force.
He said the figures were "unsurprising".
"It is important to remember firstly that perceptions and realities are different things, but it does prompt us to ask why there is a continual perception that the criminal justice system fails victims badly, and for some reason, favours offenders," he said.
"The reality is, as a victim, you are most likely to experience the criminal justice system as a largely hostile process that in many instances leaves victims angrier for the experience."
Mr O'Connell said that resulting anger was largely due to a lack of sensitivity to emotional needs.
"The classic dilemma that continues to be faced is the fact that justice for the victim is seen best served through the formal system, but at a basic human level, [the justice system] consistently fails every test about meeting emotional and psychological needs," he said.
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The BOCSAR report also found that 60 per cent of those surveyed felt the system brought people to justice, while 66 per cent believed sentences handed down were too lenient.
Mr O'Connell said means of punishment in the existing system did little to bring validation to victims.
"When you see a victim outside the court house and they lament the leniency of a sentence, it suggests that satisfaction or validation have a strong correlation with the sentence imposed," he said.
"If someone were to be put away for life, would that fundamentally make a huge difference to the victim's life? The answer is no.
"There needs to be other means of healing and support."
The restorative justice pioneer said responses to surveys such as this were understandable at face value, but their was an underlying issue.
"The heart of the issue is the rational notion that justice is attempting to dispense justice - on behalf of our society - that fails to engage with key stakeholders in a humane way," he said.
"At the end of the day, as a cop, that was what motivated me to find very different ways of engaging those offenders and victims to begin to address the very human need of emotional understanding."