Results of the research about the experiences of volunteering in the victim and witness support offices at courts in Croatia

12 Oct, 2017

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia, Independent Service for Victim and Witness support conducted this research during July-September 2017 about the experiences of volunteering in the victim and witness support offices at the courts, and usefulness of the knowledge, skills and experience that volunteers gained for their future work, employment and professional career.

A on-line questionnaire was filled in by 80 volunteers who are not active any more, former volunteers of the victim and witness support offices at seven county courts in Croatia (Zagreb, Vukovar, Osijek, Sisak, Rijeka, Zadar, Split).
At the time of volunteering, their average age was 25 and 75% of them were college students (mostly law and psychology students), while 20% were unemployed, 4% employed and 1% retired. The average period of their volunteering at victim and witness support offices was 1-3 years.

At the time of conducting the research, the largest number of former volunteers were employed (mostly as lawyers/legal advisers, as psychologists, as administrative officers, as legal trainees and other). 41% said that volunteering at victim and witness support offices helped them to get a job, because their experience in providing support to victims and witnesses at the courts was taken into account by their employers. They said that skills and competences gained through volunteering at victim and witness support offices are useful to them in their current job (especially to lawyers/legal advisers and psychologists) and they especially emphasised: experience in working with vulnerable groups, communication skills, practical experience in communication with victims and witnesses, knowledge about how the courts and judicial system work, experience with team work, specificities of providing support to victims and witnesses, awareness about their own competence and other. 97,5% of former volunteers said that they would recommend volunteering in the office for victim and witness support to other people and consider their experience as volunteers to be very useful and positive.

The results will be used as guidelines for the further development of the victim and witness support system regarding the engagement of volunteers in the victim and witness support offices at courts, coordination of their work and planning of the most appropriate models of their training.