Victim Support Europe Launches a Multi-Country Referral System to Harmonise Responses to Cross-Border Victimisation

18 May, 2020
18 May 2020, Brussels

A multi-country Referral Mechanism for victim support professionals is launched by Victim Support Europe (VSE) to assist cross border victims.

In May 2020, VSE has presented its pilot web-based Referral System, a special feature of VSE’s brand new Intranet.

☑️The web-based mechanism will help 45 civil society organisations across the world to safely refer victims to a victim support service in another country in cross border cases.

☑️The goal is to have a co-ordinated and seamless service, so victims of crime are safely referred to the right service.

Considering the increased mobility of people in the EU and the increasingly globalised crime, people are more and more becoming a victim of crime in a Member State other than their own. Victims of a crime in a country other than their own often face a variety of challenges that leave them particularly vulnerable. There are a number of obstacles these victims face that might make it more difficult for them to identify or access support services. VSE’s goal is to support its members in ensuring that all victims can access and receive the right support and assistance.

The Referral System allows 45 civil society organisations across the world to safely refer victims to a victim support service in another country in cross border cases. Each member has assigned a point of contact for the referral and only this person will be able to access the system and send and receive cases. Members can now interact with each other on a secure platform on particular cases without VSE’s office being involved. The sender of the case can assign a degree of priority to the case depending on the urgency of their request and the timeframe in which they would like to receive an answer.

“The assurance that cross-border victims will access and receive support is dependent on effective cross-country approaches. We encourage our members to actively use the new Referral System. Their experience in national referral will also help us to adjust and improve the system to reach an effective and useful mechanism,” says Léa Meindre-Chautrand, VSE’s Policy Officer.

Early intervention, cooperation and quick response are key to helping cross-border victims. “The best interests of the victim must always be the primary consideration in all actions taken. The idea is to have a co-ordinated and seamless service, so victims of crime are safely referred to the right service. Victim support organisations are able to send relevant information about the case so victims do not have to tell their story over and over again”, adds Léa.

VSE members from Europe, USA, New Zealand and Russia expressed great interest in the system and found it a useful tool to safely refer victims of cross-border cases to the relevant victim support organisation.

The referral system has been a logical continuation of VSE’s earlier achievements aiming at developing new tools to better respond to victims’ needs. For instance, in 2018 VSE in partnership with The World Bank and support of The Multi Donor Trust Fund for Justice Sector Support (MDTF-JSS) has implemented a number of activities aimed to assist Serbian Government in strengthening victim support services in Serbia. The project resulted in mapping all victim support services in Serbia (http://www.interaktivnamapa.rs/) and collecting basic information about each service, including: the available forms of assistance and support provided; which type of victims are supported; how victims are informed about services; the ways in which victims can get proper assistance and support; capacity of service providers; the use of paid and volunteer staff and what kind of training they receive and how services are financed.

In 2019, VSE has broadened the scope of their support services mapping effort and presented an interactive online map (https://victimsupport.eu/interactive-map/) of all available victim support services provided by VSE’s 58 members across the world. Having this information online allows victims to easily obtain accurate knowledge and contacts so they can know the options available to them and get the help they need.

In February 2020, VSE was one of the 9 partners to present the results of a two-year project ‘Best Practices in Victims’ Support: Referrals, Information, Individual Assessment: VICToRIIA’ in Brussels. One of the aims of the practical outcomes was a ‘Manual of Effective and Secure Referrals of Victims’. This preparatory document looks to assist policy makers and victim support organisations in setting up a victim referral system based on existing national and local infrastructure.

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