Exploring the impact of the Victims’ Directive on service provision for victims of crime in Ireland
Keywords:victims, services, crime, Victims’ Directive, service rights, information, support, protection
The article considers the impact which the Victims’ Directive will have on service provision for victims in Ireland and the challenges which will be faced in seeking to make the objectives of the Directive a reality. The primary focus of the Directive is the provision of effective services to victims of crime ‘to ensure that [they] receive appropriate information, support and protection and are able to participate in criminal proceedings’. Unlike proposals to give participatory or procedural rights to victims, providing services such as court accompaniment or similar supports is uncontroversial. However, while these rights are not controversial in principle, ensuring that victims receive consistent and effective services throughout their engagement with the criminal justice process is not necessarily easily achieved. The article begins by discussing the expectations which the Directive creates for victims under each of its three themes; that is, information, support and protection. Within the discussion of each theme, the article will highlight shortcomings which have been experienced by Irish victims in that area in the past and consider the initial attempts which have been made to meet the Directive’s objectives with regard to that specific theme. The authors argue that although clear efforts have been made to ensure the expectations created by the Directive become a reality, Ireland still has some way to go before full compliance is achieved. The article concludes by considering some of the general, practical challenges posed when seeking to implement the level of service provision envisaged by the Directive and outlining the commitments which the state will need to make to ensure that appropriate, Directive-compliant services are provided to victims.