Victim Support Europe, together with victim support providers and operators of 116 helplines in Europe, addressed a joint letter to the French Government to express their concerns regarding the proposed time limit in the new tender call that would fund the French 116 006 helpline.
In place in 13 EU Member States, the 116 006 helpline ensures that all victims of crime have access to information and support and serve as a first contact point with a trained professional. In France, the helpline is successfully operated since 2018 by France Victimes.
In its open call for tender of 31 May 2021 to fund the 116 006 helpline, the French Government has adopted a position which puts into serious question, and arguably jeopardises, the effective functioning of the 116 006 helpline in France. In particular, the new call requires that the average call duration should be less than 6 minutes for 80% of calls and 9 minutes for the remaining 20% of calls.
The signatories of the joint letter call on the French Government to urgently review the terms of reference of the tender and postpone any decision in this regard until the impact of these time restrictions are fully understood, to avoid a reduction in the quality and experience of service enjoyed by victims.
“Organising helplines in an efficient manner, to a recognised set of standards, and which maximises the number of victims accessing the service must clearly be a priority. Yet this must not compromise the quality. Efficiency objectives should not drive a race to the bottom. Victim helplines cannot be measured as a customer service helpline in the private sector. The primary objective of a helpline is to support victims of crime and respond to their needs, regardless of the amount of time it might require.”, they write in the following letter: