Victim Perceptions of Legitimacy of Diversion to a Conditional Out-of-Court Disposal: A Randomized Controlled Trial
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This paper describes a randomized controlled trial testing the impact of a conditional out-of-court police disposal on victim satisfaction. The study draws on three previous research findings: that the quality of procedural factors about the way a case is handled (fair and respectful treatment, etc.) influence victim satisfaction more than the outcome of cases; that victims' primary goal for their case is to stop the offender from committing the crime again; and that the way in which a sanction is communicated can change how appropriate the sanction is perceived to be. In this sample of 142 UK crime victims, half of the offenders in these victims' cases were randomly assigned to court as usual, and half to diversion into Turning Point, wherein offenders agreed to complete conditions designed to stop their offending and address victims' needs. Based on a victim survey (70% response rate), Turning Point sample was 45% more satisfied with their cases (72.5% and 50% satisfaction, respectively). Potential explanations and implications are discussed; how out-of-court disposals are communicated may be key. In a third non-randomized but suggestive sample of victims with Turning Point cases without special attention to communication with victims, only 54% of victims were satisfied.