With many tens of millions of Europeans suffering from crime every year, the difficulties faced by victims of crime are a truly pan-European phenomenon.
The Victims’ Directive represents a milestone for the position of victims of crime in criminal proceedings across Europe, sought to improve the rights, support and protection of all victims of crime and thereby aid their recovery.
The impact of the EU Directive on victims of crime and on the actual experience of crime victims across Europe largely depends on the way and the extent to which the Directive’s articles will be successful in reorienting victim policy in EU MS.
Domestic national experience shows that improving the plight of victims of crime can only to a limited degree be entrusted upon changes in the ‘letter of the law’. Instead success is in large part contingent upon the practice at street-level: the extent to which rights are supported by sufficient services.
Project IVOR - Implementing victim-oriented reform of the criminal justice system in the European Union (2014-2016) arises from the idea of providing a full overview of current research into and with victims’ rights and services, identifying lacunas in the knowledge base and of offering a model which can serve to connect experience and research in one area to another. This model draws upon the typology developed to represent internal coherence across the EU and the database of societal characteristics of external coherence.
In fact, project IVOR made possible the development of the first preliminary analysis of victim assistance models throughout the EU Member States and the assessment of the social and juridical realities of victims’ of crime in the different countries. In order to be able to do so, the partnership not only interviewed experts from different fields of knowledge (academia, criminal justice system, victim support) but also conducted a systematic literature review of possible external factors influencing the implementation of several of the rights enshrined in the Victims’ Directive. To nominate some of possible external factors: poverty and social inequality, perceived level of corruption and trust in the authorities/criminal justice system, amongst others.
A rich and analytical overview of the recent developments on the victim assistance models in the EU MS, with a particular focus on clusters of information such as the definition of victim, the victim support, restorative justice, victims resident in another EU MS, individual needs assessment and vulnerable groups, training and cooperation, was drawn in the Final Report. Complementarily through a revision of the existing victimological knowledge underlying the impact of the implementation of victims’ rights on victims’ needs and victims’ experience and of the societal ecology of the position of victims, allowed a further understanding of the manner in which victim-oriented reform in the diverse countries in Europe could succeed, aligned with practical recommendations and measures to promote the transposal of the EU Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.
The development of the Seminar IVOR: services that work for victims, which took place in Lisbon, on the 14th of January 2016, also constituted a cross-cutting moment to the identification and gathering of suggestions, measures, solutions and recommendation for the implementation of the Directive. The presence of 150 participants allowed a wide and fruitful debate on the state of the art of victims’ rights in Europe, the sharing of best practices and of good examples to be followed.
Project IVOR is promoted by the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV), co-financed by the European Commission under the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Union and developed in partnership with the International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT), the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and Victim Support Europe.