Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Guide to help violent crime victims

Commissioner Martin Callinan said victims are at the centre of everything gardai do
Commissioner Martin Callinan said victims are at the centre of everything gardai do

New guidelines for victims of violent crimes will help support them in the courts process, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said.

The updated notes outline how to make a victim impact statement before a convicted criminal is sentenced by a judge.

Families of a murder victim and men and women targeted in violent and sexual attacks can tell a judge how a crime has affected their lives physically, psychologically and financially.

The booklet also warns people not to include their thoughts or feelings about the offender or tell the judge what sentence they think the offender deserves.

Commissioner Callinan said victims are at the centre of everything gardai do. He added: "I have no doubt these will assist victims of crime and hope they will go some way to supporting victims in what may be difficult circumstances."

The guidelines were developed by gardai, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Victims of Crime Office and are available in 10 languages.

Claire Loftus, Director of Public Prosecutions, said it was important to have clear, easily understood, accessible language when presenting information for victims.

"The guidance is aimed at victims of crime and I believe they will benefit if the information presented to them is clear, concise and accurate," she added.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the simple question and answer style publication gives clear guidance for victims faced with making a statement in the courts.

"The victim impact statement provides a unique opportunity for victims of crime and families of those who have died as a result of a crime to move from being passive spectators in the criminal justice system, to give an account, in their own words, of the effect that the crime has had on them, be it physical, emotional, psychological or financial," he added.

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