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Forum established to improve rights of victims of crime

A forum to examine how the rights of victims of crime can be improved through review of legislation, information sharing and service provision has been established.

The forum is co-chaired by the chief executive of One in Four, Maeve Lewis, and the head of policy for criminal justice at the Department of Justice, Ben Ryan.

The forum will meet twice a year, with the first meeting having taken place virtually in March.

The forum was established by the Department of Justice to meet a commitment laid out in the Justice Plan 2022 by Justice Minister Helen McEntee.

It includes a number of State agencies and invites to the forum have been sent to about 70 NGOs providing supports and services to victims of crime.

The terms of reference for the forum say it “may act as a sounding board for future public information initiatives run by the department”.

Also in its terms of reference is that the forum will facilitate civic society organisations working with victims of crime to articulate their views to the Department of Justice on the needs and concerns of the victims of crime they support.

Sub-groups of the forum may be set up to further examine particular issues and then report back to the forum.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said: “The structure of the forum will allow attendants to address issues in relation to strengthening national coordination, awareness-raising, and protection of victims, review of legislation, service provision and referral of victims between agencies as necessary for access to services.” 

In an answer to a parliamentary question by Fine Gael TD Colm Burke about what was being done to improve the criminal trial process for victims, Ms McEntee said the forum was one of a number of measures being taken to assist victims to be aware of their rights and know where to go to get support.

She said a campaign to raise awareness of the rights afforded to people under the Victims of Crime Act 2017 would also be undertaken.

Mr Burke said it was important such a forum exists so “they can come together and share their experiences in what is the best way of giving support to victims of crime.” 

He said it was very important for the victim of any crime to know there was somewhere they could turn for assistance and support.

He said the forum “allows all the different groups and victims themselves to be able to set out how best we can provide that support.”