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Britons who are victims of crime in another EU country will get a guaranteed level of support, Justice Minister Nick Herbert said today.
He announced that the UK would opt in to the proposed EU Directive on the rights of victims, so the Directive will also apply in the UK.
‘The availability of support for victims in other European countries can vary hugely’, Mr Herbert said, ‘we need to ensure that victims’ rights are clear and consistent so that crimes are reported and criminals can be brought to justice.’
Victims in fear for their safety will also be better supported, thanks to proposed new EU-wide protection orders. Currently, protection can vanish the moment a victim crosses a border. But the planned new protection orders will mean that measures to safeguard the most vulnerable victims can automatically follow them when they travel to another European country. This would mean that, for example, a victim given a non-molestation order in one country, will be given a similar standard of protection in another EU country without having to go through lengthy and complex court procedures.
Justice Minister Nick Herbert said:
The UK is rightly seen internationally as a leader in the provision of support to victims of crime. The Government is committed to improving the effectiveness of support we provide even further. This Directive will help to ensure that Britons who become victims of crime when travelling in Europe are given the support they need. Coming into contact with the Criminal Justice System can be an intimidating experience at an already difficult time. When it happens in a foreign country with the barriers of language and different legal systems to overcome, it’s particularly important that victims are well supported.
‘The availability of support for victims in other European countries can vary hugely. This Directive will help ensure that victims’ rights are clear and consistent so that they can be confident in reporting crime and helping bring offenders to justice, wherever in Europe they may be.’
Although the final text of the Directive has not been agreed, the intention is to ensure that:
- Victims are treated with respect and get information on their rights and their case in a way they understand.
- Victims have access to support services which provide information and emotional support.
- Victims have the right to be heard in proceedings, as they are in the UK through the Victim Personal Statement.
- Vulnerable victims are identified and they are properly protected in criminal investigations and proceedings.
Notes to editors:
- For further information please contact the Ministry of Justice Press Office newsdesk on 0203 334 3536.
- The UK has today announced that it intends to opt-in to the proposed EU directives on victims and civil protection orders. The UK has previously announced that it will opt-in to the European Protection Order.
- The Directives were published by the Commission as part of a Victims Package on 18th May 2011. Read the draft text.