Let’s start with a ‘simple’ question: How to ensure safe justice from a victim’s perspective?
We have a duty to protect the victims of crime, improve the level of service that they can expect from the criminal justice system and raise the quality of support that they receive. It is essential on a practical level to ensure that in operational terms we have the most effective justice system possible. After all, we can secure convictions and bring down rates of crime only if victims have the confidence to report crimes to the police and engage with prosecutors to make sure that their testimony is heard in court. For both those reasons and at every level, we must do better.
As things stand, too many victims feel that the criminal justice system does not deliver justice for them. Too many feel let down by the system, which compounds the pain and suffering from the original crime. That must change. Our task is to improve the service and support that victims receive from the point at which a crime is reported right through to their experience in the courtroom.
For the last year, Victim Support Europe has been working on a Discussion Paper on Safe Justice. This paper aims to discuss the current practical problems and barriers for victims in achieving justice in the course of a real-life victim’s journey from crime to the outcome of criminal proceedings. Additionally, the paper will challenge conceptional concerns and preconceived notions that lie at the basis of (some of) the current justice systems and that may influence the victim’s ability to achieve safe justice. With this paper, we aim to address ways in which the justice system harms victims unnecessarily. We thereby want to start the conversation on how to make the criminal justice system work in a way that is less harmful to victims and victims’ families, as well as is considered more successful by victims and their families regardless of the outcome of guilt of the suspect. The action week presents an opportunity to significantly influence the EU criminal justice legislation, particularly because the European Commission is currently revising EU victims’ laws as well as working on legislative proposals that impact the rights of victims of a crime in criminal justice processes.
During the Action Week on Safe Justice, we want to exchange knowledge and opinions from victims and experts in the field on major challenges and opportunities for victims throughout their journey towards justice.
Why this week?
We organise the Action Week 2022 from 21 to 25 February 2022, with on 22 February the European Day for Victims of Crime. In 1990 in Stockholm, Sweden, Victim Support Europe declared 22 February to be the European Day for Victims of Crime. The European Day offers the momentum to remember those who have suffered at the hands of criminals – many millions every year – children and adults, women and men, poor and wealthy, residents and visitors to the EU.