Tuesday 25 October 2016

Victims to be given access to DPP files


Victims of crime will soon have the right to know when criminals are being released from prison.

The new legislation being brought before Cabinet by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (pictured) will also give victims a statutory right to question the decisions of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The new Victims Right Bill will have implications for gardai, and could add another layer of scrutiny over the force.

The bill is being brought before Cabinet to ensure Ireland meets the November deadline to comply with an EU directive on victims' rights.

There is currently an obligation on the DPP to give reasons for decisions taken in cases involving fatalities, but the new legislation will go beyond that - and give victims of other crimes the right to question its decisions.

"The new laws are about giving more empowerment to victims and putting greater obligations on the criminal justice agencies to take account," a senior source said.

The Government has also allocated funds and personnel for a dedicated victims communications unit within the office of the DPP. This is in order to meet the surge in requests for reasons from victims of crimes and their families.

The new laws will also give victims the right to information, advice and assistance when their case is being processed.


Those effected by crime will be given more frequent updates on how their cases are progressing.

Currently, families are forced to send a request to the prison services for information on when a prisoner is due for release. Under the new law, families will have a statutory right to be informed on an imminent release of a criminal.

Two years ago, DPP Claire Loftus warned in her Strategy Statement that the office anticipated that the adoption of the EU directive into Irish law will have "significant resource implications" for her office.

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