The consequences of crime can vary widely depending on the nature of the crime and the damages involved. For the victim, these consequences can include physical, financial and emotional repercussions and can potentially have a long term impact on their quality of life. Research by the Central Statistics Office indicates that, in 2006, almost 5% of the Irish population were victims of crime (see Irish Crime and Victimisation Surveys). To assist those dealing with the aftermath of criminal behaviour, a number of services have been developed. These include both voluntary and government agencies to assist individuals through the Criminal Justice System process and to support those attempting to deal with any financial and/or emotional difficulties arising from criminal behaviour.
In 1974, a Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal was established by the then Government to administer a scheme designed to alleviate some of the financial difficulties experienced by victims of violent crime and their families. The purpose of this scheme was to compensate individuals for losses arising from personal injuries as a result of violent crime or acquired while assisting another individual in preventing a crime or saving a human life. Individuals eligible to apply for compensation under this scheme include the injured person(s), the immediate family of the injured person(s), if the victim has died as a result of the crime, or those responsible for looking after the injured party. Further details about the Scheme for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted are available on the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform website.
A Victims’ Charter was also drawn up by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in 1999 detailing victims' rights and entitlements to services from state agencies involved with victims of crimes. This charter is available through the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform website (PDF, 1.01 MB).
In 2001, the Council of the European Union adopted a Framework Decision on the Standing of Victims in Criminal Proceedings (PDF, 110 KB), designed to afford victims the best legal protection and defence of their interests, irrespective of the EU Member State in which they find themselves. To that end all EU member states, including Ireland, must align their legislation on criminal proceedings so as to guarantee to victims certain defined rights and supports.
In March 2005, a Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime was established by the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to devise an appropriate support framework for victims of crime into the future and to disburse funding for victim support and assistance measures. Since then, the Commission has undertaken a review of the Victims Rights Charter (PDF, 1.01 MB), as well as preparing a report on a future framework (MS Word, 83 KB) for victim support services. See the most recent Annual Report of the Commission (MS Word, 213 KB) for more information on their activities.
On 19th June 2008, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern announced the 'Justice for Victims' initiative. This initiative includes a major new legislative package which involves:
Along with these legislative proposals, a number of administrative moves to increase the level of support to victims of crime are planned, including:
One of the services funded by the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime is a Crime Victims Helpline which was launched in 2005. The Crime Victims Helpline is a national helpline offering support to victims of crime in Ireland. It is intended to support, inform and empower victims of crime and those affected by crime. The helpline can be contacted by phoning the Lo-Call number 1850 211 407 and is available on Mondays from 10am to 7.30pm, Tuesdays to Friday from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays between 2pm to 4pm. Alternatively, the helpline can be contacted through their website at www.crimevictimshelpline.ie.
An Garda Síochána and the Court Service also offer a number of referral, liaison and support services to victims. In addition to government agencies, a number of voluntary organisations have also been developed to support individuals attempting to overcome the negative repercussions of crime. These organisations provide an important source of information, encouragement and support, particularly for marginalised and/or ethnic minority groups, as they attempt to deal with the aftermath of criminal behaviour. Examples include AdVic, AMEN, Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI), Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Centres. Details of other local organisations who provide support to victims of crime throughout the country can be obtained from the Crime Victims Helpline.
Further information about services available to victims of crime, surveys used to measure levels of crime and victimisation in Ireland and internationally, as well as available research and literature on the subject are all available on our website.