1. Minister Fitzgerald welcomes the coming into force of the European Victims Directive

Minister Fitzgerald welcomes the coming into force of the European Victims Directive

16 November 2015

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., has welcomed the coming into force of the European Victims Directive.

She said The EU Victims Directive represents a change in the way that victims will be dealt with as they make their way through the criminal justice system. It provides for information to be given to victims from first contact with the criminal justice agencies. It provides for much additional information to be given in the course of the investigation and court process if the person opts in to receive that information. This is key to empowering victims”.

The Directive also provides that victims of crime will be able to

  • receive an individual assessment to identify victim’s specific protection needs
  • access victim support services
  • enjoy safeguards in the context of restorative justice services
  • access protection
  • enjoy privacy in the context of the criminal proceedings

Addressing the implementation of the Directive in this jurisdiction the Minister stated:

“The criminal justice agencies have been working to provide a service to victims in line with the standard set out in the Victims Directive. An Garda Síochána have trained members of all ranks to implement the new policies and procedures that they have put in place to ensure that victims of crime across all 28 Garda Districts receive a comprehensive and consistent response. The Courts Service and the Office of the DPP have also put in place new procedures and practices to enable victims to receive the rights provided by the Directive”.

As well as the administrative policies and procedures already put in place by various criminal justice agencies to give effect to the Directive, legislation to transpose the Victims Directive into Irish law is currently being drafted as a priority in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. The Bill is expected to be published shortly and it will be enacted as soon as possible after that.

Commenting on the Bill, the Minister said “The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill will fulfil a commitment in the Programme for Government to enact legislation to strengthen the rights of victims of crime and their families, to ensure that victims and their needs are at the heart of the justice process and that rights to information, advice and other appropriate assistance are met effectively and efficiently. The Bill will introduce, for the first time, statutory rights for victims of crime”.

The Minister continued I am also delighted that I managed to secure an extra 21% for the 2016 budget to fund services to victims of crime via a scheme administered by the Victims of Crime Office in my Department which will assist those organisations in implementing the Directive.”

During the course of the preparation of the Bill, a number of consultations were held with those working with victims and the Criminal Justice Agencies. Their input is being taken into consideration in the drafting of the Bill.

On Tuesday last week Minister Fitzgerald hosted a briefing for those working with victims. At this briefing senior officials from the criminal justice agencies outlined how they have been gearing up to implement the Directive in practice and in as inclusive a manner as possible.