21 Jun 2023

Transforming the victim experience through User-Centred Design | Tackling VAWG and RASSO Impact Days

Over the last decade, reforms have been made to improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system with a critical focus on listening and responding to victims’ views. Published in 2018, the Victims Strategy released by the Government set out to protect victims in speaking up and to support them throughout their journey. A blog submitted by PwC for Tackling VAWG and RASSO Impact Days

With a focus on listening to victims and taking on board their feedback, the Victims Code has been strengthened and, more recently, a draft Victims Bill published to ensure that victims’ voices have more weight. There have been region-specific interventions, for example the Mayor of London’s recent commitment to invest £3m per year to improve victim care, as well as commitments from police forces across the country to upskill officers and redesign services in line with a more public health approach. Technology can help us progress further along this journey whilst ensuring that victims’ voices are heard and acted on appropriately. 

Moving forward with User-Centred Design

As organisations continue to transform services and processes, a human-led approach to service design is of paramount importance to keep victims’ voices and lived experiences at the heart of change. ‘User-Centred Design’ (UCD), with its focus on empathising with user needs and identifying pain points to make improvements to their experience, has come to the forefront of government and business improvements in recent years.

But what does this mean for victims? Taking a User-Centred Design approach to improve victim services means starting to design processes and systems from the victim’s perspective, understanding the variety of experiences, emotions and specific needs of victims, and using the invaluable insight of charities and support services. Victims often need to access services in extremely challenging and distressing circumstances, so it is important that they are accessible to everyone, particularly disabled people or those with other protected characteristics. We also can’t look at the services of any one organisation in isolation, instead, we must consider the way the victim experience is influenced by all organisations that touch their lives throughout the case. This includes the police, the third sector, the CPS and the Courts Service. We are thinking about the end-to-end victim experience.

It is important to also recognise that the experiences of victims are not homogenous. The needs of a victim of sexual exploitation will differ from those of a victim of credit card fraud, however by mapping key touchpoints and common challenges across lived experiences, we can work to identify the moments that really make a difference for victims and use these as the catalyst for change. To gather all of these insights, we can take a blended approach of using existing research, again including charities, as well as targeted research with partners and even directly with victims themselves where possible. User-Centred Design supports us to first understand the problem before developing solutions, with the victim’s voice as the golden thread across all transformation - and technology can help us along the way.

With technology underpinning this work at every stage, we can bolster our findings and seek to accelerate improvements. For example, by:

  • Mapping the victim’s journey: By considering the use of software applications, such as service blueprint and journey mapping tools, we can quickly consolidate and plot key findings, enabling us to easily visualise the challenges throughout the case. This enables organisations to identify where delays are experienced, or perhaps where duplicative processes have emerged, that may cause the victim to have to repeatedly retell their traumatic experience to multiple professionals in order to access the services they need.
  • Telling the story: We now know the journey, but to help people better understand the lived experience of victims, we can utilise communication tools to support victims to tell their story. This can be both in court - through live video testimony - and through the development of video case studies that can be used in trauma-informed training to help professionals recognise and mitigate the impact of their actions.
  • An evidence base for change: To underpin the rich qualitative insights, we can use quantitative data and powerful analytics tools to develop deeper insights to give power to our findings and give further credibility to any case for change.
  • Transforming the experience: As we work to deliver improved services for victims, we can continue to leverage technology to support the change in line with their needs. Using cloud technology, such as CRM and case management platforms, to provide a unified experience for victims across all organisational touchpoints. Automation technologies can also proactively manage victim updates, and integration platforms can enable seamless working across all relevant services and organisations.

By taking a human-led and tech-powered approach to User-Centred Design to drive improvement for victims of crime, not only are our services more likely to be fit for purpose, but more importantly victims will feel empowered and valued as a result. To know that your voice is heard can make all the difference.