A cross-border crime takes place when a person becomes a victim of a crime committed outside his/her country of residence, or if the crime committed effects the victim in his/her country of residence (cybercrime, cross-border fraud, etc.). Cross-border felonies are complex and can involve conventional offences with one or a small group of victims: assault, theft, internet scams; or collective or mass events: terrorism, war crimes, crimes against humanity. A victim’s relatives, partner or friends, and those, who witnessed the crime, are indirect victims.
Cross-border crime can be defined as ‘any serious crime with a cross-border dimension committed at or along, or which is related to, the external borders. It may also concern environmental crimes such as waste or wildlife trafficking.
Victims’ rights in the EU are established under The Victim’s Rights Directive that sets out the 6 key rights available to all victims of all types of crime that take place in any member state. To find out more about the legislation concerning cross-border crime, contact your local victim support service: Victim support.
European Cross-border Crime
The EU helps its members fight serious cross-border crime and terrorism more effectively by facilitating common action and cooperation between national police and customs authorities. If you have been a victim of cross-border crime, your rights are the same as if the offence took place in your own country.
Penalties for cross-border crime
Member states each have their own legal code that will apply to the different cross-border crimes. However, a report on the abuse from you is usually needed before any legal action can be taken. The collection of evidence can be a problem for law enforcement on either side of the ‘border’ and it can take time for authorities to work together.
Punishment, whether custodial or financial, will depend on the crime and on the outcome of any court case. However, all victims of crime in Europe are entitled to compensation and restitution under the Victim’s Rights Directive.
- Inform others about your plans: leave details (dates, itinerary, accommodation arrangements) with family or friends and establish a way you can get in touch with them.
- Inform a local consulate: if you are traveling outside the EU, it might be a good idea to inform your local consulate when you arrive and leave details of your trip and a phone number they can reach you at.
- Make electronic copies of your documents: create an electronic backup of your passport, visas, medical insurance card, itinerary, immunization record, and any other important documents. Email the files to yourself and keep them in your inbox in case any of your documents are lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Do your research: check travel advice, and your foreign office/ministry’s website, for your destination online.
- Be alert to your surroundings – don’t wear your headphones when walking alone
- Be confident and pay attention – don’t look like a tourist
- Avoid dangerous people and situations – keep to well-lit populated areas
- Don’t keep your valuables in one place or carry them in your back pocket – if a thief wants your handbag, wallet, phone let them take it
- Keep sober – don’t get drawn into situations you can’t control because of alcohol or drug intoxication
- Only use registered taxis – don’t accept lifts from strangers
- Tell friends of your plans – use a buddy system so someone knows where you are
- Look back when you’re leaving – check you room or the table at which you had dinner in case you leave something behind
- Take out travel insurance
- Know your emergency numbers: in all EU states, you can dial 112in case of emergency. In Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden, you can also call 116 006 – the European helpline for victims of crime.
- You should contact the police to report the theft. If they exist, look for a police station that specialises in crimes against tourists.
- Once you have police report number, go to your consulate or embassy and request new documents or an emergency passport.
- If you wish to speak to someone about what has happened, contact the national victim support organisation (MAP) who will give you information on your rights and the national criminal justice system in the country where the crime took place.
- You should report the crime and make a statement;
- Ask for a money transfer (you can ask for assistance from the victim support organisation and police authorities);
- Cancel any stolen cards (you can ask for assistance from the victim support organisation and police authorities);
- Ask for logistical support (in case you have no place to stay, no money for meals, etc., contact a victim support organisation);
- If you feel the need to speak to someone about what has happened, contact the national victim support organisation (MAP), who will also be able to give you information regarding your rights and the national criminal justice system in the country where the crime took place.
- Talk to someone immediately, if possible a relative or a friend. Do not keep it to yourself;
- Go to the hospital;
- Contact the national victim support organisation to ask for help to deal with the emotional effects of crime;
- Report the crime (if you wish to do so) and make a statement about what happened;
- Claim compensation within the criminal.
If you are victim of cybercrime, please see Victims of Cybercrime.
If you’ve been affected by cross-border crime, there are a number of ways you can contact support services to get assistance or information.
- Get support locally. Contact your nearest Victim Support team.
- Call 116 006, the telephone number for helplines for victim support. This number is available in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden.
The 116 006 helps victims of crime by informing them of their rights and how to use these, offering emotional support, while also referring victims to relevant organisations. As a single access point, it will provide information about local police and criminal justice proceedings, possibilities for compensation and insurance matters, and other sources of help for victims of crime.