The Implementation of the Victims' Directive in Ireland: Identifying and Preventing Secondary & Repeat Victimisation

The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act, 2017 transposes the EU Directive on Victims Rights 2012/29/EU into national law.

The Act, which was enacted in November 2017, provides for a set of new statutory rights for victims of crime. This is particularly in areas such as the right to information and the provision of certain supports and protection to be provided to victims across the criminal justice system by the respective criminal justice agencies as applicable. Some of the new key provisions in the Act include the following;

  • The right for victims to receive comprehensive information on the criminal justice system, their role within it and the range of services and entitlements which victims may access from their first contact with An Garda Síochána and/or the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
  • The right to be provided with information, upon request, concerning the progress of the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.
  • The right to be informed upon request of any decision not to institute a prosecution in relation to the offence committed against them (and the reasons for such a decision) and a right to request a review of that decision.
  • The right to receive, upon request, information on the release, temporary release, or escape from custody of an offender who is serving a sentence for an offence committed against the victim.
  • The right to receive information upon request in clear and concise language and to interpretation and translation, where it is necessary to enable victims to understand and be understood, in their participation in the criminal justice process.
  • The new legislation also permits all victims of crime to provide a victim impact statement, as applicable, (that is in the case where a person is convicted for the crime against you) where previously only victims of certain serious crimes were entitled to do so. This statement about how the crime has affected you can be made in person or through a legal representative.
  • The right to information on victim support services.
  • Also in line with the EU Directive, provisions in the Act are facilitating the provision of better supports for vulnerable victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system.
  • This includes providing for the assessment of victims in order that any special measures deemed necessary to protect them from secondary and repeat victimisation, intimidation or retaliation can be put in place during the investigation and during the court process.
  • In tandem with this, the Act has extended the scope for the potential use of special measures for victims and witnesses to be utilised in the presentation of evidence. This includes, for example, evidence given via the use of live television link, screens or via intermediaries.
  • The potential use of video-recorded statements has also being extended under this legislation.

All, bar a small number of the criminal evidence provisions of the Act (i.e. Sections 19(2)(c) and 30) were commenced on Monday 27 November 2017. The remaining provisions were commenced on May 30 2018 to enable the relevant necessary operational arrangements to be put in place in the courts system in the intervening period.

In line with Oireachtas requirements for Government Departments’ reporting on the implementation of new legislation within a 12 month period, a post-enactment report outlining progress on implementation was laid in the Oireachtas library in November 2018.  
 

Last review: January 2020.