VSE NEWSLETTER #4 2016 - 30 December 2016
Download the Newsletter HERE

From the Editor


We are publishing our 4th newsletter in 2016 in the aftermath of Berlin attack, our thoughts now are with all those affected.

These horrible events again show how important it is to collaborate and ensure victims of terrorism receive appropriate support.

It has been a dynamic year with numerous new developments and changes. Since October 2016 we have expanded our staff with two new members namely Irina Dragoman as Office Manager and Sanjin Buzo as Project and Finance officer. We are happy to welcome them to our team!

In the past few months VSE has organised and participated in a number of interesting events and meetings: A delegation of Victim Support Europe had a meeting with the new Commissioner for the Security Union, Sir Julian King. In November we organised our General Meeting, a Members Meeting and a conference in the European Economic and Social Committee titled Establishing victims’ rights and support services in challenging times . Victim Support Europe has again brought together a group of European NGO networks to discuss victims’ rights during our Round Table.

In this newsletter we provide you with a more detailed overview of these activities and of recent developments, activities, past and upcoming events and projects from across Europe and beyond. We are also happy to share with you the contributions of our Members. We hope you enjoy reading it!

To conclude I want to wish you Happy holidays and fruitful new year! We are looking forward to collaborating with you in the next year!and further support all victims throughout Europe. Thank you very much!

 
Helgard van Hüllen
Vice President of Victim Support Europe

CONTENT


UPCOMING EVENTS

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND ACTIVITIES
 
NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS
UPDATES ON VSE PROJECTS

UPCOMING EVENTS


- VSE Annual Conference 2017 will be held during May in Dublin, Ireland.      
  VSE Annual General Meeting will also take in May in the same town.
  More information will follow soon!

- International conference for Aid to Victims, 9-10 January 2017, Paris, France. Please find all information here
 

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND ACTIVITIES


VSE Conference: Establishing victims’ rights and support services in challenging times


On 29th of November in cooperation with European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), VSE organised a conference “Establishing victims’ rights and support services in challenging times”

A year after the deadline for implementation of the EU Victims’ Rights Directive, and at a time when Europe is facing numerous economic, social and security challenges, we examined the state of play in EU Member States.

The Conference had a very interesting line-up of great speakers this year.

The conference was opened by VSEs president João Lázaro who gave an inspiring opening speech.  Following, Kathleen Walker Shaw, as a representative of our hosts EESC, highlighted the importance of  support of institutions like the EU parliament and Commission and their responsibility to take notice and actions if progress is not coming quickly and active enough. Ms Shaw stated that there are mayor social and economic consequences of not getting victims’ rights packages right and claimed that victims’ rights should be part of all policy areas as victims’ concerns have far-reaching consequences

Alexandra Jour-Schroeder of DG Justice in the European Commission confirmed their strong dedication to support work on victims’ rights and victim support in Europe. In this light she once more stressed how for the European Commission implementation of the Victims’ Rights directive is priority. Implementation should be complete, correct and working well in practice.

During the conference we had opportunity to hear an incredible testimony from Aimee Metselaar, victim of violent burglary in her home. She concluded her speech by an appeal to all of us working on victim’s rights: ‘Victims of crime should not become victims of the system’.

In the first part of conference we also had opportunity to hear the presentation of Azzzedine Salmane, Associate Legal Officer at UNDOC. From Mr Salmane we heard that UNDOC stands ready to work with victim support organisations specially on technical support.

Roberta Lepre of Victim Support Malta gave us an in depth overview on Victim Support situation in Malta. Roberta made it clear that while developments are going on, there are a number of challenges and practical matters that need to be addressed. Resources need to be allocated to give life to provisions in law and policy.

The first part of the conference was concluded by VSE executive Director Levent Altan.

The second part of the conference was dedicated to the Victims of terrorism and was opened by speeches of the victims of the Brussels attacks on 22 March 2016.

Kristin Verellen, partner of Johan Van Steen who died in the attack on 22/3 in Maelbeek, shared her experiences after the horrible events. ‘The world is upside down. I shouldn’t come to you, you should be coming to us. You should come, you should listen and take care of what we can’t in our distraught condition.’ Ms Verellen talked about the difficulties she faced in getting information, support and practical help in the aftermath of the attacks. She calls upon governments and institutions ‘When terrorists hit at the Belgian and European Institutions by killing innocent people, our institutions should own their responsibility to give whatever emotional, administrative and financial support is needed to those who were sacrificed.’

Philippe Vansteenkiste, brother of Fabienne Van Steenkiste who died in the attack on 22/3 in Zaventem, talked about how the attacks broke his life. He expresses the need for a victim to only have to ring the bell at a precise address. From there onwards the paper work and his rights should be managed by competent people. Eddy Van Calster, husband of Fabienne Van Steenkiste who died in the attack on 22/3 in Zaventem, shared his message with the audience: ‘…A hooked system that became a target for the terrorists.  Because you must realize that they didn’t mean to harm the victims personally, but indeed the system.  Why then would the government not undertake action to support the victims? ‘

The voices of the victims were loud and clear – victims of terrorism need to receive victim support.

MEP Monika Hohlmeier who spoke of the European Parliament’s cross-party commitment to ensuring better support for victims of terrorism. Ms Hohlmeier stressed her commitment to standing with the victims. ‘This [supporting victims] is not a duty, this is in the heart of the member states’ responsibilities.’ The EU Directive on Combating Terrorism, of which MEP Hohlmeier is the rapporteur, aims to have a legal basis to work with as it is clear that what Member States do for victims of terrorism is very different. ‘We want to harmonize to make standards are higher and similar.’

The conference continued with an inspiring and committed speech of Sir Julian King, Commissioner for Security Union, who expressed his commitment to put victims’ rights at the heart of an effective and sustainable security union. Sir King also thanked to victims for talking about experience and talk about how being prepared can make a crucial difference. Sir Julian King’s full speech can be found here.

Presentations were concluded by Kurt De Backer for our member organization Steunpunt Algemeen Welzijnswerk who spoke about victims of the 22.03 Brussels attacks and their actions to support the victims in those days. Kurt discussed the importance of financial resources and coordinated communication. He highlighted the need for the development of coordination center and expertise centers focused on the psycho social care for different victim target groups in Europe at least but also preferably in every country. They should be working together internationally in order to tackle the consequences of the acts of internationally organized networks of hate.

At the end our vice president Helgard van Huellen concluded the conference with final statement that European Union and Belgium should ensure that human suffering caused by blind violence will be taken care of in good, emotional intelligent and respectful way.

We are very grateful to Aimee but also to victims of terrorism Kristen, Philippe and Eddy, for their strength and willingness to be with us at the event and to share their stories, to make their voices heard by all of us – victim support organisations, policy makers and institutions.

New staff in VSE Europe


For the last couple of years, the workload of the staff in VSE office in Brussels has been increasing. To cope with this increase, VSE has taken on two new staff who have specialist expertise in office management, finances and project management.

We have hired Irina Dragoman as Office manager, and Sanjin Buzo as Project & Finance Officer.

Irina and Sanjin started working for VSE on 18 October and in a short time they have managed to settle well in our Brussels team.

 


We have also expanded our staff through two new volunteers - Rita Bhandari and Luis Bispo.
Rita joined our team in Brussels in June 2016 as a communications expert.She is developing a draft Communications strategy and setting up a communications group with all our members.

Luis is in fact based in the US military base in Stuttgart where he is their Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Luis is providing us a wide range of help across all our activities, but in particular he is using is training and supporter background to provide us with important expertise in developing our cross-border support policies and training programs.

General meeting and members meeting November 2016


On November 28 a General meeting and VSE members meeting was held in Brussels. 

The fact that 12 VSE full members (out of 22) and 11 associate members (out of 23) were represented shows an ongoing interest in VSE activities and members commitment to our European work.

Members were presented with President overall report on VSE work, Executive Director report on the activities of Brussels office and Treasurer report on finances. During the meeting we had two workshops as well.

First was a workshop on the Evaluation of VSE work in 2016, performed by external evaluator Paolo Texeira. Here all our members had an opportunity to reflect on VSE work and to give their contribution on how to improve our work, office, partnerships, membership and collaboration.

Second workshop was related to VSE strategy 2016 - 2020, where all of us gave their contribution to the development of VSE strategy, strategic priorities and goals in the upcoming period. At the end of the meeting the strategy was voted for by our full members.

Round table discussion: Victims of Crime in Europe: A broader NGO Perspective


On 12th December in cooperation with DG Justice, VSE held a Round Table discussion with representatives of NGOs.

Representatives of 13 NGOs attended the round table, including PICUM, Child Helpline International, Confederation of European Probation, ENDFGM, AMBER Alert Europe, EDF - European Disability Forum, EENA 112, AGE-platform, European Forum for restorative justice, and FENVAC.

This was a second round table organized by VSE in order to connect different organizations who work on fields related to the EU Directive on Victims' rights and VSE activities in general. All organizations expressed their support and recognition of VSE work and showed their willingness for joint projects and actions in the future,

DG Justice representatives, Karatzyna Janicka Pawlowska, Jana Hoskova and Gracie Seif also attended the round table. They expressed their strong support to VSE work and activities but also their commitment on work with victims and EU Directive on Victims' rights. Participants of the round table were also provided with useful and practical information regarding the upcoming DG Justice calls for proposals but also concerning all other issues and problems that organisations are facing during the application, implementation and dissemination processes

 

7th Annual Conference of the Victimology Society of Serbia


On 24th and 25th November, The Victimology Society of Serbia organised its 7th Annual Conference. Victim Support Europe was invited to discuss victim support in Serbia during this event, following the study we carried out with the World Bank in Serbia.
The VDS managed to make it a very successful event bringing together victimology specialists from Serbia, Europe and beyond.

The Conference titled: Security and victimization: Challenges of social reaction and victims’ protection. In the plenary sessions ample attention was given to security and victimization and the issue of protection and social reaction to victims. Victim Support Europe presented findings of the study carried out in Collaboration with the World Bank in a presentation on ‘Developing Victim Support in Serbia’. The full report of the study - Analysis of victims’ rights and services in Serbia and their alignment with EU Directive 2012/29/EU - can be found here.

An Verelst of Victim Support Europe described the research and findings in the context of this study. During this presentation VSE addressed some of the key findings of the compliance analysis with the EU Directive on specific topics included in the Directive such as victim support, information provision, training and protection. An overview of the victim support systems and recommendations of the Serbian context were presented to an interested audience of Serbian and international professionals. Victim Support Europe had the opportunity to liaise with some of many interesting organisations represented at the conference.

VSE Delegation on Meeting with Commissioner for Security Union


On 7th November delegation from VSE made of João Lázaro, VSE President, Levent Altan, VSE Executive, Helgard van Hüllen, Vice-President of VSE and VSE Board members Mark Castle and Kurt De Backer had a meeting with European Commissioner for Security Union, Sir Julian King.

Commissioner King expressed his commitment, to the victims’ agenda – in particular victims of terrorism.

Sir King also gave his full support to the work and activities of Victim Support Europe

Training on the Victims’ Rights Directive with END FGM


On 9th November 2016 Victim Support Europe was invited by the END FGM network to provide a training for its members on the Victims’ Rights Directive. An Verelst, VSE’s policy officer, spent half a day discussing the content of the Directive with the network. Through discussions and exercises the training opened up perspectives on how the Directive can be used and applied for victims of Female Genital Mutilation. The expertise and engagement of the participants made the training a success.

In the afternoon Victim Support Europe and END FGM co-chaired a discussion with allies, stakeholders and the members of the End FGM European Network who work at the national level on gender rights, human rights, ending FGM and other harmful practices. Alyna Smith of PICUM and Michael Cerulus of ILGA Europe joined the discussion and told the participants about their work on the EU Victims’ Rights Directive. Thanks to Sara Chrzanowska of the European Commission all participants were updated on the implementation of the EU Directive.

A great day for VSE to work with the END FGM network and its members on the EU Victims’ Directive! #ENDFGM

Second meeting of the European Network on Victims´ Rights


On November 21st, the second Meeting of the European Network on Victims' Rights was held in Bratislava. VSE was represented on the meeting by our Executive Director Levent Altan who also gave presentation on VSE work and activities.
Conclusions of the meeting you can find here

Coordination on cross border victimization


Victim Support Europe has been working closely together with the European Commission on the issue of cross-border compensation.

We were invited to present and attend the international contact points meeting which brought together victim compensation authorities from the EU Member States.

As a follow up of this meeting Victim Support Europe was invited to carry out a survey with the authorities in the following months, building on earlier analysis and identified priorities by the European Commission and Compensation Authorities. This will help us to understand more precisely the issues relating to cross border compensation and what actions are needed to resolve them.

 

Visit of the delegation of Turkish government


On 16 November Victim Support Europe welcomed a delegation of the Turkish Ministry of Justice to its office. Within the framework of the legislative and institutional structure development in the field of victim rights in Turkey the government had already engaged in other meetings and study visits in the past. This meeting, as part of a TAIEX study visit, followed the delegations visit to France to observe the system of victim rights commissioning and coordination in terms of victim support services application.

Victim Support Europe organised a day of capacity building, information provision and discussion on different topics related to victims’ rights and services, corresponding to their needs. EU Victims Directive and Victim Support, State and NGOs in victim support, Generic and specialized victim support, Collaboration by different stakeholders in Victim support provision were discussed from a multi-country perspective. The aim was to provide an overview of victim support service structures, and pitfalls and good practices in setting up these structures. VSE built on its strong network to provide a variety of European experiences and perspectives. Greg Heylin Director of the Victims of Crime Office in Ireland provided information about the Irish victim support service structure through a phone interview.

Victim Support Europe was pleased to hear the delegation’s commitment to improving victims’ rights and services in Turkey.

Online victim support 


In the last decades we witnessed a shift in how we communicate, with an increasing use of technology, most prominently the internet playing a key role. This presents its own set of new possibilities, expectations and challenges to which Victim Support may not be detached.
 
Victim support however remains with a generalized lack of responses adapted to XXIst century’s new needs and persists almost solely focused on the traditional models of support. In fact, some groups of victims cannot access traditional victim support intervention models as a direct effect of the characteristics of the victimization suffered or have other impediments to access traditional sit-in face-to-face models of support. Online support can be a response to tackle a great part of these problems.
 
Within Project T@lk – online support to victims of crime, a Survey about the distance-based support for victims of crime was implemented to victim support organisations on the online support services they provide and their willingness to implement such systems, if non-existent.
From August to September of 2016, 60 victim support organisations and support service providers of the 28 EU Member States participated on the survey, which allowed us to conclude that the majority of our sample is accustomed to operate distance-based support services, being those helplines, online support services or both. However, the survey identified 5 victim support organisations without either a helpline or an online support tool for delivering distance-based support to victims of crime.
The synchronous practices of online support (such as the chat) appear to be available, despite the relatively low levels of use by victims (in comparison with the utilization of the email and the website). 
 
The results show that a significant proportion of victim support organisations/service providers without online support practices, despite the identification of several advantages in delivering support through online tools, is quite reluctant or undecided about their willingness to develop/implement online support.
 
The full report of the results will soon be available at http://www.apav.pt/publiproj/.
 
Project T@lk is promoted by the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) and co-funded by the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Union. It counts with the partnership of Victim Support Malta (Malta), Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania), Victim Support Finland (Finland), and associate-partnership of the Catalan Victimology Society (Spain) and Victim Support Europe.

 

NEWS FROM OUR MEMBERS

CROATIA

White Ring Croatia
We have recently started a project with a preventive impact named „I have right to say NO to violence in a relationship“. The aim of the project itself is to raise awareness  about different kinds of violence in adolescent's relationships, just as of different ways of their prevention. Considering the constant increase of a violence in our society, we hope that this project will contribute in preventing and combating the violence, in light of the fact that adolescence is a period of entering into first emotional end sexual relationships.
 
Beside of this intensive campaign of bringing awareness to increased violence in our society, we will also continue with strengthening the capacity of Reference center for immediate support to victims of violence in Split, Dalmatia county. For this special cause we received an additional financial support of  Ecumenical Women's Initiative of Omis.

CROATIA

Victim and Witness Support Service Croatia
We celebrated our 10th year anniversary this year.
List of activities that followed the 10th birthday included: “open doors week” in the office in Vukovar, round table in Vukovar about victims’ rights today and the conference in Zagreb about the importance of volunteers in victim support services.
VWSS had recruitment of volunteers in Vukovar, Osijek and Zagreb in December
Current projects:
  • “Rights and Prevention- Support and Prevention for elderly people”
    • the project aims at improving  the rights and support for the elderly
    • it focuses on specifics of the support needed for the elder –victims of crime and the prevention when it comes to avoiding fraud
  • “PR support for socially beneficial NGO programs“
    • the project aims at promoting 116 006 and volunteerism in support services
    • it focuses on the importance of multidisciplinary approach when working with victims of crime
    • some of the activities included presenting the volunteer program of 116 006 at Law university and among psychology students at Croatian studies; reinventing the visual of 116 006 line; recruitment of 18 new volunteers for 116 006 line
    • currently we are in the process of making a video promoting volunteering and a video for awareness raising when it comes to violence against women
Future projects:
  • Rights, support, protection and compensation of victims of crime”
  • VWSS is a partner on a project along with Documenta- Center for Dealing with the Past, White Circle Croatia and Centre for Peace
  • the project is funded by the European Commission and it aims to establish a Central information point with information regarding criminal case victims in order to enable the possibility of regular extraction of statistical data about the victims and the possibility to follow the procedures in individual cases
  • next year, WVSS will help two organization establish victim and witness support service in their counties as a partner on the project funded by the Ministry of Justice which aims at establishing victim support in those parts of Croatia where there is none

CROATIA

Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia, Independent service for victim and witness support
LOTTERY FUNDS
 
The Ministry of Justice has signed contracts with 5 NGOs which will provide support to victims and witnesses in counties where there are no offices for victim and witness support at courts and 1 NGO that will conduct specialized education for the aforementioned organizations.
 
PLANS FOR 2017
 
Ministry of Justice has intention to continue with the financing of NGOs' activities in the field of victim and witness support. The aim is to encourage establishing of an umbrella organization or network of NGOs that will coordinate the provision of support in the field (provided by NGO sector). In order to develop strategy for NGOs' networking, the consultations with VSE are ongoing. With the same cause, the Independent service has applied for lottery funds for 2017.
 
TEVNAS
 
The project „Targeted Early Victim Need Assessment and Support“ has entered the second phase. The results of two researches that were conducted were presented on the conference on 22 and 23 of September 2016, together with the national and EU best practices from Netherlands, France and VSE. The project team is currently in the process of developing individual assessment questionnaire.
 
Link: http://www.hpc.hr/news.aspx?newsID=40&pageID=41

 
Training activity „We can do it together“
 
Representatives of the Independent service participated in the provision of interdisciplinary trainings that were held for the members of County teams for prevention and combating domestic violence and violence against women and other professionals who work directly with victims, all together more than 150 participants.
 
 
PROJECT „Hate no more“ (JUST/2013/FRAC/AG/6163)
 
Representatives of the Independent service were engaged in activities of the „Hate no more“ international project:  ‘Accommodating the Needs of the Victims of Homophobic and Transphobic Hate Crimes – Raising the Competencies of Law Enforcement Institutions’, as participants in the development of the national and international toolkit as well as lecturers in the trainings.
 
Link: http://hatenomore.net/lv/?p=info



 

CZECH REPUBLIC

Bily kruh bezpeci
 
Bílý kruh bezpečí (BKB) together with the members of the Board of constitutional law organized a seminar on the topic of “Stalking - is our fear from the perpetrator measurement of danger of stalking? How can we improve support to victims of stalking?” The seminar took place in the Chamber of deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.
From our statistics every 10th client in our offices is a victim of stalking. The next seminar will be focused on crime of rape. The whole year 2017 BKB is going to focus on crime of rape.
At the moment we are waiting for an amendment to the law on victims of crime.
In October we successfully finished our first crowdfunding for direct financial support to victims of crime.
More info: www.bkb.cz

DENMARK

Offerraadgivningen
 

Chinese delegation visited Offerraadgivningen
A delegation from Guizhou Provincial Higher People’s Court, China visited Offerraadgivningen on 20th October 2016 to learn about the functions and work of the Victim Support in Denmark and to establish friendly relationship.

A New government, new Minster of Justices
The Danish one-party government has initiated a coalition with two other parties. In this process, the Minister of Justice was exchanged with Søren Pape Poulsen. OID hopes that the process and good work with respect to Victims’ rights and Victims of rape etc. will be continued.

Victims' Fund 2016
The first nationwide cinema video on victim support and rights is being shown in cinemas until February 2017. The video can also be seen on Facebook and homepages, backed up by the local victim support organisations during the campaign.
Local victim support organisations have initiated local projects, some piloting projects that might have a wider perspective of victim support in the future.

Training of volunteer advisors, 3-year project:
The project is now half way and it continues to run well. We are training new volunteer advisors and continuing training of experienced advisors. We have also just completed a supervision training of 22 advisors to ensure that the local organizations offer peer supervision.

National Mentoring, 3-year project
The piloting mentor program has been running for just over one year now. It is most often victims and relatives who say yes to the offer - only a few witnesses.
A mentor has over a longer period an average of 7.8 meetings per case.

All the 27 mentors have just been gathered for one day workshop to share experiences and to network.

An internal survey of Offerraadgivningen  - Who are we?                                            
Offerraadgivningen has in 2016 carried out an internal study on Whom we are, it shows that we are about 200 counsellors (advisors).

Our typical advisor got a medium or long academic background and a woman over 50 years and stay on for an average of 5.3 years and often do other volunteer work as well.



 

FINLAND

Victim Support Finland
116 006 now also in Finland
 
From the beginning of December Victim Support Finland started to use the European helpline number 116 006 for victims of crime. The change was implemented in connection to making the help line services totally free of cost in accordance with the Victims’ Directive. The 116 006 helpline is open on Mondays and Tuesdays at 13-21 and from Wednesdays to Fridays at 15-21. Volunteers answer in the helpline.  In addition to the general help line, Victim Support Finland implements a legal helpline, which is open from Mondays to Thursdays at 17-19. Volunteering lawyers answer this helpline and provide with legal advice.
 
Increasing users at the on-line chat services of Victim Support Finland
 
Victim Support Finland started its on-line chat services in 2012 with the focus on young crime victims. Today the chat service has grown to become one of the main services provided to all victims of crime. Still today, young people are the main users of the service but also adults are using the service in growing numbers. Using chat provides an easy access to services and clients use it to ask concrete questions or to seek comprehensive help. This service can easily be used anonymously but still many clients are willing to be contacted by staff members after been informed of their situation and available support services. In 2016, so far over 1000 chat discussions have been conducted. This shows a clear rise from 2015 (altogether 560 chat discussions). The service is open weekdays at 9–15 and on Monday evenings at 17-19.
 

FRANCE

INAVEM
Declination in the territory of the care of victims of terrorism

Since the attacks in France, the country has put in place post-crisis mechanisms. Where the attack took place, an Information and Accompaniment Center was set up, led by the INAVEM victims' assistance association, to accommodate the victims in a single place and to provide them with all the services they need. Within each department, under the authority of the State (Prefect), a local Victims Monitoring Committee (CLSV) is set up so that all partners in the care of victims (health, social, justice , Police / gendarmerie, victim support associations, compensation) know each other, know how each works, coordinate on the ground, and find solutions to individual problems.
In addition, INAVEM has set up referrals of terrorism in each association. They have received specific training from INAVEM and the Ministry of Justice.

A new banner to learn more about victim services in France

The INAVEM decided that the activities of the Federation and the services of assistance to the victims of its Network would be called France Victimes. This name gives better visibility and knowledge of victim services. In addition, France Victimes has launched a mobile application "Aidez-Moi" to give access to the emergency services and services of France Victimes by reassuring people and answering their questions.
 

MALTA

Victim Support Malta
We are proud to announce that VSM is one of the winners of the Social Impact Awards. VSM will be working on Project WO, a project focusing on neighborhood watch.

A Victim Support Malta client shares her story on November 25th , the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women.
Click here to watch.

“There is a Huge Problem with how the Maltese Treat Sexual Assault” … “We have a problem in this country. Well, we have many problems, but there is one which I’m set on discussing today and that’s how the media and the public treat sexual violence in Malta...” - Read more here.

“Sexual Assault article series – interview with your psychotherapist” - Read more here.

“Silence is an abuser’s best friend”: “One brave woman breaks it, as she relives an incident of child abuse in the hope it spurs others to speak up”- Read more here.
 

PORTUGAL

APAV


Manifesto “for a plan of the rights of victims of crime in Portugal”

With the aim of developing a standing of the rights of victims of crime in Portugal, APAV held meetings with all Portuguese Parliamentary Groups (PCP, BE, PAN, CDS/PP, PS e PEV) and presented the Manifesto “For a Plan of the Rights of Victims of Crime in Portugal”. This work envisages the development and implementation of integrated plan for the practical implementation of the rights of those who are victims of crime, every crime, in accordance with the new legal framework on the statute of the victim and the Portuguese State obligations within the European Union.

The Manifesto highlights the unique socio-political moment characterised by a shift on the promotion of victims’ rights in the EU and the commitments of the XXI Constitutional Government in this area, which may allow us to move significantly forward and with quality on the enforcement of the rights of victims of crime, placing Portugal at the forefront. It also appeals for the Members of the Parliament to take action and monitor the political commitments assumed by the Constitutional Government.

It is essential to develop an Action Plan that is truly monitored, accompanied and inspected and which contains tangible measures with the appropriate financial allocation that may allow for a real implementation. A plan that does not lead us to subsequent plans that are never accomplished. A small steps approach, within the current economic and financial context, but firm and revealing a will to move forward. APAV proposes the constitution of a Working Group who may prepare and start the path, but also who debates, monitors and puts it into practice.
APAV is an obvious Partner in this national effort, with knowledge, experience, the recognised quality of the services it provides to society and an acknowledged role in Portugal and Europe, with the Victim Support Europe’s presidency, in its action to defend the rights of victims of crime, of all victims, of all crimes.
The moment to act is now.

Although only available in Portuguese, the Manifesto may be accessed here.


 

UK

Victim Support Northern Ireland


NI Justice Minister Claire Sugden opened Victim Support NI’s 35th anniversary conference on November 24th in the Europa Hotel, Belfast, with a complimentary speech congratulating the organisation on their outstanding support to victims and witnesses of crime in Northern Ireland.
Delivering the keynote address, Minister Sugden said:  “The work of Victim Support is vital, and last year alone over 39,000 victims had access to Victim Support’s community services.  I look forward to working with Victim Support NI in the future, and supporting the delivery of their vital services in helping to reduce the impact of crime.”

The Minister also took the opportunity to announce her intention to bring forward a Committal Bill which will see the removal of Preliminary Investigations – a hearing which requires victims and witnesses to give evidence in a pre-trial hearing before a decision is taken to run a trial.  This Bill was then announced to the Northern Ireland Assembly in early December.

Victim Support NI has been opposed to these hearings and has lobbied against them for some time.  We are delighted to have paid some part in bringing this matter to the Minister’s attention, but will continue to ‘shout about’ the need to remove Preliminary Enquiries from committal proceedings in Northern Ireland.

 

UK


Mayor of London
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, recently published a new draft Police and Crime Plan for London, which places better support for victims at the heart of new proposals. The plan is now open for public consultation before adoption early next year. As well as improving the standards of policing and criminal justice in London, the Mayor has identified three new London-wide priorities: keeping children and young people safe; tackling violence against women and girls; and standing together against extremism, hatred and intolerance. The Mayor took the opportunity to announce an investment of more than £4 million to help tackle sexual abuse in London. The funding – for services already supporting abuse victims - was confirmed as a study carried out by City Hall and NHS England revealed that the needs of survivors across the capital are going unmet.

The Mayor of London is responsible for policing in London as well as the capital’s victims’ services.

You can find out more about the new plan at https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/draft-police-and-crime-plan and about the additional funding for services supporting abuse victims at https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-invests-4m-to-help-tackle-sexual-violence

 


UK

Supporting Justice


Supporting Justice has been busy over the last 6 months working on releasing the first ever national quality mark for victim services in the UK. Victim services are provided by a vast range of agencies and this has only expanded since commissioning was devolved to PCCs. The organisations that deliver victim services differ in many ways, from large scale national services to very small community start-ups. The services they provide are largely unregulated – there are no industry standards, yet these organisations provide support to some of the most vulnerable people in society.
 
Supporting Justice have developed the Victims Choice Quality Mark which will assess victim services against 5 standards of victim care. This quality mark will provide both providers and commissioners of services with an independent verification of the quality and effectiveness of those services. It will help generate and promote service improvements and boost the confidence of victims, commissioners and providers. The Quality Mark will help assure victims that they are getting the best possible, high quality care and that these services have been properly assessed and deliver what they say they will. Further information is available at http://supportingjustice.org.uk/quality-mark/
 
Additionally, over the last few months Supporting Justice conducted research into the experiences of defence witnesses - a group of witnesses that rarely have their voices heard. This work has led on to working with Citizens Advice Witness Service to raise the awareness with defence practitioners about the existing support available

 


UK

Victim Support England and Wales


In October, Victim Support (VS), J Walter Thompson London and the National Centre for Domestic Violence launched the #BreakTheRoutine campaign with a powerful video. The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the support services available to people who experience this. An exclusive Ellie Goulding track provided the haunting backing music for the dance which has had over 54,000 views on Youtube to date.
 
VS launched a new report: ‘Meeting the needs of survivors and families bereaved through terrorism’ in November. The report highlighted that the lack of a widely recognised definition of a ‘victim’ of terrorism is putting at risk survivors receiving the emotional and practical help they need after being caught up in an attack. The charity has made a series of recommendations based on the findings of this research.
 
Our ‘Make it Right’ campaign will be launched in March 2017 and aims to secure improvements to the treatment and experiences of victims of  crime through routine and widespread implementation of the Victims’ Code of Practice by the introduction of monitoring of compliance. VS seeks to achieve this aim by co-developing a quality assessment framework with statutory agencies in a region of the UK, communicating and conducting research with victims and influencing the UK Government’s  forthcoming Victims’ Law.
 
To find out more about Victim Support visit the website here: www.victimsupport.org.uk.


 

UPDATES ON PROJECTS


Victim Support Services in Serbia
 


Victim Support Europe worked together with the World Bank and Serbian stakeholders to carry out an Analysis on Serbia’s alignment with the EU Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (2012/29). 
The analysis was carried out through surveys among victim support providers, legislative review, and mapping of existing practical and institutional arrangements. The project included facilitation of stakeholder dialogue and resulted in recommendations for improving Serbian law and practice to establish comprehensive victim support services. The compliance analysis with the EU Directive focused specific topics included in the Directive such as victim support, information provision, training, interpretation and translation, and protection. In general, the analysis showed foundations for meeting minimum EU standards are in place. However, it also unveiled legislative and practice gaps, coordination weaknesses, unnecessary duplication and inequalities of service provision. The analysis also highlighted promising collaborations and good practices in Serbia. The report also includes 5 country analysis of victim support – France, Netherlands, Finland, UK and Croatia.
The full report can be found following this link.
 
In 2017 Victim Support Europe will continue its work with the World Bank in Serbia. Victim Support Europe will carry out analysis, present recommendations for the further development of victim support services in the country. Particular attention will be given to mapping out the victim support services in the whole country which will result in an overview of victim support services. Further collaboration will focus on funding for victim support, network of victim support services and police responsibilities in dealing with victims.
 

Vociare project
 


The VOCIARE project ia awarded under the 2015 DG Justice call for proposals.

In this project we will Develop indicators for certain articles of the Directive, produce National research and reports in 26 countries in order to determine the practical implementation of EU Victims Directive.

We will also produce a synthesis report to provide an overview of the EU situation.

We arevery pleased that many of our ,members will work with us on that project next year.

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Hate crime and hate speech


The extent of hate crime and hate speech in the European Union is still greatly unknown. The 2013-2014 ENAR Shadow Report on Racist Crime in Europe concludes that there is no systematic recording of racist crimes across the EU (in some countries there is no data collection at all) but nonetheless there is an identifiable trend of increase in racially motivated crimes in 2013.

The report shows that the most prevalent reported crimes in 2013 fell into three categories of crime: physical assault, incitement to violence and vandalism. Black and Asian minorities, Roma people and Muslim women are flagged as main targets of hate motivated violence in several countries. Hate speech online is also growing in number on Islamophobic and anti-Semitic motivations.

Hate crime victims’ reluctance to report is highly documented and structural, practical and above all social barriers are known to prevent victims from taking this step. Structural oppression or distrust in power structures are among these reasons. Lack of knowledge that a certain behaviour actually constitutes a criminal offence is another.

Victim support plays an important part in this process, especially if we consider that the nature of these crimes makes victims particularly sceptical to report to the relevant authorities. Hence it is through victim support that these victims shall receive the support they need. It is important to involve law enforcement, judicial practitioners and victim support in this process, and promote a speedy implementation of the Victims’ Directive that can help address the protection difficulties especially complicated for these victims.

With the aim of offering a first step in creating tools that can help achieve this goal and to raise awareness of the general public and of potential victims, hoping that that effort leads to more victims being supported, APAV is currently promoting Project “Hate no More– training and awareness raising to combat hate crime and hate speech”.

Developed in partnership with Faith Matters (United Kingdom), Solidarci (Italy), Victim Support Malta (Malta), Swedish Crime Victim Support (Sweden), Victim Support Austria, Spanish Confederation of Police (Spain), Victim Support Europe, the Portuguese Judiciary Police, the Portuguese Public Prosecution Office, the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (Portugal), Project “Hate no More” (co-financed by the Justice Programme of the European Union).

 



Editor: Helgard van Hüllen
Contributor: Sanjin Bužo

About Victim Support Europe
Victim Support Europe is an umbrella organisation which currently consists of 44 national and regional victim support organisations in 26 countries.
 
Contact to Victim Support Europe:
+32 2 231 01 12 | info@victimsupporteurope.eu
http://victimsupport.eu/


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