Shatter says fully functioning regime for crime victims in place by 2015

Minister launches guide for victim impact statements

 Garda Deputy Commissioner Martin Callinan: attended the launch of a guide for those making victim impact statements

Garda Deputy Commissioner Martin Callinan: attended the launch of a guide for those making victim impact statements

Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 01:00

A fully functioning system for assisting crime victims, compliant with an EU directive, will be in place by November 2015, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said.

Mr Shatter, launching a guide for those making victim impact statements in Garda headquarters in Dublin yesterday, said it was not within the power of any single organisation to bring about such a situation. “The work on the current guidance document gives me hope that together we can create a more humane system which, respecting fully the rights of the accused, can accommodate the legitimate needs of the victim.’’

Among the attendance at the launch were Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus.

Mr Shatter said that the development of the victim impact statement over the past 20 years was an example of the constructive interplay between the executive and judicial functions, without either arm compromising its rightful independence of the other.

He said the booklet was “a modestly printed in-house’’ publication by the Garda. It was translated into Irish and 10 other languages. It was intended, he added, to place the booklets on the internet.

“This part of the work illustrates that, even in times when funding is an issue, important improvements can be made.’’

Mr Shatter said that stepping back to the 17th and 18th century, one could see a very different role for crime victims. “The victim was required to investigate the crime, apprehend the suspect and seek a conviction before the courts,’’ he added. “While the victim was clearly very central to the system, this is not the type of position the advocates of the contemporary victims have in mind for the victim.’’

Mr Shatter said that in the 19th century a centralised police force, a unified prison system and a single prosecution service were established in Ireland.

The doctrine of proof beyond a reasonable doubt was developed as were exclusionary rules relating to evidence, he added.

“Thus we came in the 19th and early 20th century to the equality of arms framework, which now governs the process in criminal trials.’’