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This book examines the changing role of victims of crime in the Irish criminal process. It documents the variety of ways in which victims of crime are now being written into the criminal process discourse and practice in Ireland, while taking account of existing challenges. The book seeks to show how the justice system is emerging from hegemonic dominance and examines the conditions which have made their re-emergence possible and the commitments, practices and strategic priorities shaping this inclusionary momentum. It demonstrates how the paradigm of prosecuting and investigating crime moved from an intensely local, unstructured and victim-precipitated arrangement to a structured, adversarial, state-monopolised event where the accused was largely silenced and the victim was rendered invisible. The book documents the black-letter, technocratic details of how victims have been juridically provided for since the late 1980s in Ireland. It then focuses on service rights which complement the legal rights which victims of crime have been afforded in Ireland. The book also charts the challenges which continue to face service users, providers and the wider criminal justice sector in the delivery of services which are responsive to the needs of victims and meet increased demands under the EU Directive on Victims' Rights. Innovative policy options adopted in other jurisdictions, including the creation of an Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and measures to unify service provision within the sector, including Witness Care Units, are also explored.
This chapter is concerned with modest legal details. It examines issues such as the expansion in the use of video-link testimony, the use of intermediaries to contend with the harsh effects of adversarialism, the provision of legal assistance and representation, and the use of out-of-court statements to reduce the need to give viva voce evidence. The issues also include the reliance on prior statements to deal with the spectre of witness intimidation, the socialisation of law through victim impact statements, the development of more relaxed requirement regarding the competence of a witness to testify, and greater recognition of the independence of married spouses. The chapter documents variety of ways in which victims of crime are being accommodated via legal provisions. What must be guarded against in the juridical accommodation of victims is constructive interpretation of process fairness which unites the public interest with victims and against those accused of crime.
This chapter documents a variety of issues which continue to concern victims of crime in Ireland and those working on their behalf. The absence of comprehensive, accurate and reliable data on the experience of victims of crime while engaging with the criminal justice system and support services is raised as a concern. The chapter examines the challenges facing the state in tackling the problem of under-reporting and attrition in this country. It also documents the burden placed on victims and the potential for disillusionment and further trauma through engagement with the system, focusing on the potential to minimise risk through comprehensive training programmes designed to enable front-line workers to provide a sensitive and compassionate service to victims. Innovative policy options adopted in other jurisdictions, including the creation of an Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and measures to unify service provision within the sector, including Witness Care Units, are also explored.
The re-emergence of the crime victim in Ireland was due to four principal influences that created pressure on the Irish government to alter the status of crime victims. These principal influences were: victimology research; the victims' movement; the recognition and expansion of human rights; and crime became a national election issue, with a contemporaneous decrease in public satisfaction with the criminal justice system. This chapter outlines these four principal influences that transformed the victim of crime in Ireland from a piece of evidence to a stakeholder in the criminal justice system worthy of consideration, requiring the scales of justice to be balanced. In doing so, it highlights an apparent paradox: many of the activities that transformed victims of crime into recognised criminal justice stakeholders were the result of initiatives and efforts meant to aid offenders.
This chapter explains the emergence of the modern assumptions commitments and strategic priorities that have shaped the position of the victim in the justice system. In particular, it demonstrates how the paradigm of prosecuting and investigating crime moved from an intensely local, unstructured and victim-precipitated arrangement to a structured, adversarial, State-monopolised event where the accused was largely silenced and the victim was rendered invisible. The chapter traces the ways in which different justice systems have accommodated victims of crime. It highlights the broad historical changes in the assumptions and realities that governed victim relations under pre-modern exculpatory and modern inculpatory models of justice. The chapter represents the shift from personal to institutional relations, ensuring that subjective and emotive experiences were increasingly represented as invalid, tainted knowledge.
This chapter focuses on service rights which complement the legal rights which victims of crime have been afforded in Ireland. It maps the services which are available to victims at each stage in the criminal justice process, from reporting through to offender release. Many of the organisations discussed in the chapter offer counselling services and/or emotional support to victims outside of the criminal justice process. The importance of information provision, along with shortcomings in the delivery of information to victims at various stages of the process, is a recurring theme in this chapter. Gardaí play a crucial role in the support of victims of crime, not least because a Garda is the first person to whom a victim recounts the incident. The chapter explores the gaps between the rhetoric and the realities of service provision for victims of crime in Ireland with reference to available research on their experiences.
Justice systems are partially being reconstructed again, as they demonstrate an increased sensitivity to the needs and concerns of victims of crime. It has been suggested that a number of factors has facilitated the increased awareness of victims in Western criminal justice systems, which are discussed in this chapter. To begin with, the introduction of state compensation programmes can be viewed as an early attempt to move victims away from the periphery of the criminal process. The growth in the women's movement also 'raised the consciousness of women to the oppression of criminal violence'. The European Convention of Human Rights acts as another influential normative framework that seeks to extend the reach of rights in the criminal process to include victims of crime. The chapter provides information on specific challenges for the Irish criminal process. It also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.
This conclusion presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book examines the criminal justice system's interactions with victims of crime. It demonstrates the 'conditions of possibility' of the return of victims of crime by examining the factors that shaped this emergence and informed its assumptions. The book focuses on 'rupture', 'discontinuity' and the 'incidence of interruptions' in order to produce a proper understanding of this emergence. It considers service provision for victims of crime. The book charts the challenges which continue to face service users, providers and the wider criminal justice sector in the delivery of services which are responsive to the needs of victims and meet increased demands under the EU Directive on Victims' Rights.