What Makes a Victims’ Rights Information Campaign Successful?

12 Feb, 2020

Our recent PREVICT project (Promoting Rights of Victims in the EU) strives for evaluating the best practices of victims’ rights campaigns in 6 European countries and aims to design a creative information campaign of its own.
Lisbon, 3 February 2020

As part of Victim Support Europe’s ongoing work on raising awareness of victims’ rights, and in the lead-up to the 30th anniversary of victim support in Europe, we are conducting the project ‘PREVICT’ to inform victims of crime about their fundamental rights and available services.

In the beginning of February the project partners met in Lisbon to track the progress of the planning phase and define the next steps.

Abundant research shows that people who are simply given more information are unlikely to change their beliefs or behaviour, therefore it’s time for us, seeking to drive change, to move beyond just raising awareness. For that reason, the information campaign that will be a substantial part of the PREVICT project, will strive for informing the audience about a problem and, what’s more important, for pointing out means to solve it.

PREVICT project meeting, Lisbon, 3 february 2020

The project is taking place in 6 countries: Albania, Hungary, Croatia, Lithuania, Malta and Portugal and aims at reaching approximately 4,5 million of victims of crimes in these countries. The project partnership gives a good representation of countries in which victim support has a long tradition (PT and HU), countries in which generic victim support is recent (HR and MT) as well as countries in which generic nation-wide victim support is yet to be established (AL and LT). Moreover, with a representation of ‘old’ Member States (PT and MT), ‘new’ Member States (HR, HU and LT) and an aspiring Member State (AL), we believe we achieved a balance in representing different points of view and different traditions in the implementation of EU legislation.

The partnership was carefully construed to optimise the work on the project. Victim Support Europe (VSE) is the leading European umbrella organisation advocating on behalf of all victims of crime and has been a valued stakeholder during the negotiations and drafting of the Victims’ Rights Directive. Transcendent Media Capital (TMC) is the European branch of an international media company, dedicated to creating sustainable and measurable impact through media, with whom VSE has already cooperated on a number of campaigns and with whom we have produced an award winning short film ‘The Right to be Forgotten’. TMC are the key partner who will develop impact measurement and campaign tools, as well as support national partners in the delivery of the campaign. Five remaining partners – Human Rights for Democracy Centre (AL)Udruga za podršku žrtvama i svjedocima (HR), Fehér Gyűrű (HU), Victim Support Malta (MT) and APAV (PT) are long standing VSE members, while VILIAS (LT) is on the path of becoming one, having been VSE’s reliable collaborator in the past several years.

PREVICT project meeting, Lisbon, 3 february 2020

During the 2 years of the project, we intend to answer the following questions focused on victims’ rights information campaigns:

▪ What makes a victims’ rights awareness campaign successful?
▪ Why do many campaigns fail?
▪ What are the consequences of both successful and failed campaigns?
▪ How do local norms and other cultural factors constrain or enable the translation of campaigns from one context to another?

We will:
▪ identify best practices in delivering information to victims;
▪define what type of information is most pressing to be made available to victims in each participating country and develop innovative and creative information tools based on the research and target group consultations;
▪ deliver an information campaign;
▪ and (4) measure its impact.

A half-year background and best practice research (through focus groups) provided several key insights for improving the campaign’s cultural resonance. In each of the national contexts the research revealed which campaigns and communication tools and channels were distrusted by public and which held greater credibility among the audience.

At this stage, the partners are finalising the research and planning phase of the project, and are in the process of identifying the concept of the upcoming campaign and the pathways to influence the behavioural change of the audience.

“Audio-visual content is among the most engaging campaign tools today, especially for young people,” says Inês Nunes de Freitas, Project Officer at Victim Support Europe. “We are always excited when technology creates opportunities to engage wider audiences in promoting victims rights and services. Therefore, when deciding on the campaign tools and channels, we will definitely try to amplify messages through multiple strategies. Channels that are novel to the target population should be used in conjunction with other forms of awareness raising, combined with followup methods to lead to more profound change”.

Since November 2015 the Victims’ Rights Directive lays down a clear set of rights for victims of crime, and obligations for EU Member States to ensure these rights in practice. In July 2019, VSE and its partners completed the Project VOCIARE aimed at studying the practical implementation of the Victims’ Directive at the national level. The findings of the project can stand as a basis for a careful rethinking, at national and EU-level, of how are victims’ rights being enacted (or not) and what can be done to improve their standing.

As a matter of fact, in all countries involved in the PREVICT project (apart from Albania, which was not covered by the VOCIARE research), issues in the practical implementation of the Directive, have been identified. From what the Maltese national report indicates, for example, once a victim files a report they given a standard leaflet which lists their basic rights and are referred to the main police website which explains the law, with no further information given. In Croatia, the provision of information is very much depending on whether the victim is officially reporting the crime. In Hungary, there is hardly any information available online, while leaflets that in theory exist are often not available at police stations to be handed out. Similarly, in Lithuania, research raises serious concerns about the availability and the quality of information given to victims. Even in Portugal, as the country with the longest history of victim support, from amongst the States represented in project partnership, and where plenty has been done towards ensuring information to victims, there are still significant gaps in the provision of information, in particular to vulnerable victims, such as victims with disabilities, for example.

The next step of the PREVICT project is to design and launch the information campaign that will galvanize everyone — private sector, governments, individuals, civil society — to play an active role in standing up to defend the victims rights, at a time when these rights are facing increasing pressures across Europe.

“Co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Union”