· Minister visits Victim Service Office at Store Street in Dublin
· Garda Victim Service Office, with dedicated staff, now established in each of the 28 Garda Divisions
· EU Victims Directive to comes into force next Monday
13 November 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD has today welcomed the establishment of new nationwide network of Garda Victim Service Offices with dedicated staff in each of the 28 Garda Divisions.
Minister Fitzgerald today visited the Garda Victim Service Office at Store St. Garda Station. The Minister was joined by Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Transport Tourism & Sports; Mr. John Twomey, Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy
The Minister’s visit comes ahead of the coming-into force on Monday of the EU Victims Directive.
Minister Fitzgerald stated “The establishment of new nationwide network of Garda Victim Service Offices along with other measures being taken by An Garda Síochána will ensure ensuring that victims are being placed at the centre of the criminal justice system.”
“The new Victim Service Offices reflect the ongoing sea-change in attitude which is taking place in terms of recognising importance of victim’s rights.”
The Minister noted that An Garda Síochána has 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 Divisions receive an appropriate and consistent response.
The Minister also welcomed the range of further initiatives recently taken by An Garda Síochána to enhance the service being provided to victims of crime and traumatic events. These include:
· A The establishment of a new Protective Services Bureau dealing with Child Protection, Domestic Violence and human exploitation;
· A new Garda Victims Service policy;
· Training of the implementation of the requirements of the EU Victims Directive for all frontline Gardaí, supervisors and management;
· An aide memoire issued to all front line Gardaí to assist in the assessment of victims needs;
· Revised letters to victims of crime in 37 languages; and
· Information leaflets to victims and any other persons who report a crime An Garda Síochána from November 2015 which met the requirements of the EU Victims Directive.
Commenting on the EU Victims Directive, Minister Fitzgerald stated: “Service innovations, such as the establishment of new Victim Service Offices are central to ensuring implementation of the EU Victims Directive which comes into force next Monday. These efforts will be further augmented by the landmark new Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill which I will publish in coming weeks ahead of its introduction in the Oireachtas.”
Minister Fitzgerald also referred to 21% increase in funding which is to be provided for the Victims of Crime Office in 2016 which brings the total budget to almost €1.5 million
The Minister stated: “This increased funding will assist community and voluntary organisations in meeting the additional demands for support services, such as the provision of information on the rights of victims and court accompaniment, arising from both the implementation of the provisions of the EU Victims' Directive and the landmark new Victims' Rights Bill which I am introducing."
Finally, while visiting Store Street station, Minister Fitzgerald also paid tribute to the Dublin Metropolitan North (DMR) Central Division who have recently been awarded the National Q Mark Award for Quality Management Systems 2015. The Division is also to be awarded a European Best Practice Award for Customer Orientated Community Policing in Maastricht on 17th/18th November.
Note for Editors:
Garda Victim Service Offices (GVSO) are based on a successful pilot programme where offices were established in Waterford and Store Street, Dublin. They provide additional assistance to that already provided to victims and their families by investigating officers and Family Liaison Officers. They have dedicated staff in accordance with local needs and a contingency plan in place allowing for absences, essential for maintaining a professional service. The offices operate between the hours of 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.
The functions carried out by the office include the following:
· Identify and liaise with victims of crime
· Arrange call backs, by community Gardaí, to victims of crime resident in their areas
· Send initial contact letters and follow up letters to the victims of crimes. (translated versions are available in all commonly spoken languages worldwide)
· Provide information leaflets containing victim services available with each letter
· E-mail letters to Embassies and/or tourists to assist with arranging travel documents etc. at short notice
· Refer tourists who have become the Victims of crime to Irish Tourist Association Services