The rights of victims of crime are primarily set out in the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 and the Victims Charter has been updated to take account of the new law and to enable victims of crime to easily find information about services available to them.
Information on consular assistance available from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to support Irish victims of crime abroad is also included.
The new and expanded Charter outlines the rights of victims throughout the different stages of the criminal justice system, following the reporting of a crime.
It provides information on the services available to victims and sets out:
- the role of each relevant service,
- what victims can expect from that service (the services they offer victims and how they can expect to be treated),
- what a victim can do if a service does not meet their expectations.
The Charter sets out information on the services offered by the State as well as voluntary groups who work with victims of crime.
It sets out how to get in touch with those services and what supports they can offer to victims of crime.
The Charter describes the criminal justice system from the perspective of a victim of crime, so that they can understand what to expect from their interaction with it.
Announcing the publication of the Charter, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said “Becoming a victim of a crime can be a deeply traumatic experience.
“I appreciate that it can be daunting for victims to begin the process of dealing with and recovering from their experience.
“Victims of crime are entitled to our support in that process.”
He said he had taken account of feedback from victims of crime.
Information on consular assistance available to support Irish victims of crime abroad is also included in the charter.
“The Charter is a living document and it will be updated and expanded on an ongoing basis, to ensure that victims of crime have access at all times to the most up to date and relevant information,” the minister said.
The Charter was updated by the Department of Justice and Equality through a consultative process involving all relevant State agencies, as well as non-governmental organisations working with and supporting victims.
Minister Flanagan added: “Voluntary and non-governmental organisations continue to play a vital role in supporting victims of crime, their families and friends. I am deeply grateful to them for their ongoing work and for their constructive input to the development of the Charter.”
A victim as provided for in the 2017 Act refers to:
- a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss, which was directly caused by a criminal offence,
- a family member of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence and who has suffered harm as a result of that person’s death. (This does not include family members who have been charged with or are under investigation in connection with the death).
The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) provided its assistance in review of the draft, to ensure that it is clear and accessible to all.
The Victims Charter is available on the dedicated website www.victimscharter.ie
This website will be developed further to include enhanced features including the option to search by location, as well as providing further information and infographics detailing what victims can expect from the criminal justice system.
Awareness raising on social media, information leaflets and publicity materials will also be distributed to Garda stations, libraries, emergency rooms and other locations.