- New website to inform and support victims of crime
- Website will provide information on rights and services available for victims of crime
- Dedicated section of website for victims of sexual crime
- Website launch marks the beginning of a wider campaign to raise awareness of the rights set out in the Victims of Crime Act 2017
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee today launched the redesigned Victims Charter website, at www.victimscharter.ie
The website brings together all of the information a victim of crime might need to know about their rights and about what to expect from their engagement with the criminal justice system. It also provides details of all the different supports that are available both when engaging with the criminal justice system and more generally. It presents the information in an easily accessible and user-friendly way that will allow victims of crime to quickly and easily find the information they need.
The launch of this website also marks the beginning of a sustained campaign to raise awareness of the rights provided in the Victims of Crime Act 2017. That campaign will begin shortly and will include the roll out of the physical, printed promotion material, translated into Irish and a number of major languages, drawing attention to the Victims Charter.
Minister McEntee said:
“People who are the victims of crime are often initially in shock and don’t know where to go for information. Some people might want to know if there is an organisation they can reach out and talk to, others may want to know how to report what has happened. Some might want to know where to go for medical help or legal advice.
“The Victims Charter website brings all of this information, and more, together in one place and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate.”
Reporting a crime can be a daunting prospect and for many people it might be the first time they have had to interact with the criminal justice system. This new website will help victims by explaining, step by step:
- How to report a crime to An Garda Síochána;
- What to expect during the investigation;
- How a decision is made to whether or not to prosecute;
- What to expect from the court process, and
- What supports are available for victims at every point throughout the criminal justice process, including after a trial has ended
Victims can also find information about organisations offering support, including for specific types of crime, and information on what to do if they feel they have not been treated properly.
The development of this website was one of the key deliverables as part of ‘Supporting a Victim’s Journey’, published by Minister McEntee last October. It sets out a detailed roadmap for implementing the recommendations of the O’Malley Report (Review of Protections for Vulnerable Witnesses in the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences), and the website has a dedicated section providing specialist information for victims of sexual offences.
Minister McEntee said:
“Victims of sexual assault have been subjected to the most difficult experience of their lives. Recovering from a sexual assault or abuse is an extremely difficult and traumatic process, and that process is different for everyone. This website aims to provide victims with every piece of information they need as they begin their individual process of recovery. Victims of abuse or sexual violence need to know the supports that are available, whether they are ready to report the crime or not.
“I want people to have confidence in our criminal justice system and know that it will support them every time they need it, but I also want victims to know they are not alone.”
The website also provides information about the Court process, outlining what happens when a case goes to court and what will be required of a victim during the trial. It provides contact details for organisations which can accompany a victim during this process to provide support. It also outlines information on the special facilities provided by the Courts Service, such as special waiting areas and the use of video links for giving evidence.
Minister McEntee said:
“We know that the need to support victims does not stop when the trial is over. There is information on what happens when a perpetrator is sentenced and on the right of a victim to be heard in that process and the website will continue to be developed to include links to other specialist services that will be of assistance to victims.
“It also provides details of how to register with the Irish Prison Service Victim Liaison Officer so that victims can be informed of any significant developments in the management of the perpetrators sentence, including any impending release.
“Officials in my Department are also working hard to prepare for the commencement the provisions of the Parole Act 2019, which will enhance the rights of victims even further”.
Notes for Editors
The Victims Charter is now available at www.victimscharter.ie
Implementing the O’Malley Report
‘Supporting a Victim’s Journey’, published by Minister McEntee last October sets out a detailed roadmap for implementing the recommendations of the O’Malley Review. These recommendations will help and support victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases. In accordance with that plan, the website has a dedicated section for victims of sexual crime, which will inform users about a range of topics such as:
- Support available to them from Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs) and Rape Crisis Centres in the immediate aftermath of sexual violence;
- Support in coming to terms with sexual violence that happened, whether recently or in the past, and how that can be reported;
- The availability of specially trained Gardaí who will be able to meet their needs, and
- What will happen if they are asked to attend Court as a witness and the supports available to help them to do so.
The Victims Charter
The Department of Justice published a new and expanded Victims Charter in 2020. The updated charter takes account of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017, which sets out the rights of victims of crime, and seeks to assist victims of crime in locating services available to them.
The charter was developed by the Department of Justice in consultation with all relevant State agencies and organisations including An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service, the DPP, as well a wide range of non-governmental organisations and groups representing victims themselves.
The Victims 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); and
- what a victim can do if a service does not meet their expectations.
A victim in this context (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; or
- 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).
In addition to detailed written exchanges, a consultative workshop, facilitated by the Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies at the University of Limerick, took place on 18 December 2019, to ensure that the Victims Charter met the needs of victims and appropriate arrangements for dissemination were made.
The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) provided its assistance in review of the draft charter, to ensure that it is clear and accessible to all.