Assault on Justice

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Duration: 30 minutes

A man given a beating in his own home. A young woman bitten and punched by a man. A bottle smashed onto the head of an innocent bystander in an argument. Three victims, all violently assaulted - yet their attackers escaped prosecution, receiving cautions instead.

Half of all criminal cases brought to justice in England and Wales are now dealt with out of court. It's fast justice...but is it fair?

The government says out-of-court punishments, like cautions and fines, are helping to unclog the overburdened courts system and deal swiftly with antisocial behaviour. Critics say it is simply justice on the cheap, letting some serious criminals off the hook and, crucially, denying victims their day in court.

Shelley Jofre investigates whether these decisions, made behind closed doors instead of in open court, are tough on crime or the causes of crime.

  • Do cautions 'deny victims justice'?

    Panorama reporter Shelley Jofre meets some of the critics of a fast-track justice scheme that is meant to issue tickets for minor offences and asks if it is instead short-changing victims of serious crimes.

    Read Shelley Jofre's feature
  • Working to keep women out of prison

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    The Together Women Project was set up in the aftermath of Baroness Corston's 2007 report on the particular problems of women in the criminal justice system.
    The project offers advice and support in an attempt

  • Cautions 'deny victims justice'

    Panorama finds evidence that assailants in serious violent crimes are being handed just cautions in a bid to save the courts time and money.

    Read more on the problems of the cautions system
  • Ministry of Justice Statement

    MOJ statement on cautions
  • Your comments

    Read a selection of your comments to the programme
  • Panorama 2000 to present

    If you'd like to know more about Panorama programmes dating back to 2000, including features, transcripts, video content and more, please click on the link below.

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Jeremy Vine
Shelley Jofre
Katy Stead
Executive Producer
Marcus Ryder


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