Crime prevention and criminal justice

 

Any form of crime undermines the rule of law. Preventing crime involves taking measures that seek to reduce the risk of crimes occurring, and their potential harmful effects on individuals and society, including fear of crime, by intervening to influence their multiple causes.

The criminal justice system addresses the consequences of criminal behaviour in society and has the objective of protecting peoples' right to safety and the enjoyment of human rights. It refers, specifically, the work of the police, prosecution and judiciary with regard to criminal matters, as well as the access to legal aid, prisons and alternatives to imprisonment, restorative justice and victim protection and reparation. It also includes cross-cutting issues, such as gender, human rights and the considerations for victims and children within the criminal justice system.

 

Key messages

  • Justice is a core value of humanity that is found in all cultures, civilisations and legal systems, and a cornerstone of development and human rights.
  • Strengthening the rule of law relies on the prevention of crime and the promotion of fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems.
  • Crime prevention saves lives and saves money and investing in crime prevention is better than investing in punishment.
  • Crime prevention must look at social vulnerabilities that influence crime, such as inequality, poverty, lack of opportunities, and disregard for human rights.
  • Children have a right to have their voices heard including when they are in contact with the justice system.
  • No violence against children is acceptable, all violence is preventable
  • Violence against women is one of the most widespread and destructive violations of human rights and everyone must act to prevent it.
  • Access to justice and legal aid is the foundation for the enjoyment of human rights such as the right to a fair trial, and to protection against abuses such as torture, arbitrary and prolonged detention, and wrongful conviction.
  • All victims of crime are entitled to access victim-centred justice services, in which they are heard, assisted, supported and protected.