Written Answers. - Charter for Victims of Crime.

Richard Bruton

Question:

42 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice if he supports the concept of a charter for the victims of crime which would cover rights to legal aid, more clearly defined rights to compensation and other support services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

52 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice whether he accepts that our criminal justice system must be cognisant of the trauma and loss suffered by the victims of crime; and if he will take the necessary steps to ensure that this occurs.

Richard Bruton

Question:

77 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice whether he will amend the terms of the Criminal Injuries Tribunal in order that it can deal more flexibly with the sufferings of victims of crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42, 52 and 77 together.

I am, of course, conscious of the trauma and loss suffered by the victims of crime and that is a main motivation for the actions I have taken to strengthen the capability of the Garda Síochána in all that they do in the area of crime prevention. I know that the gardaí, for their part, treat the victims of crime with every sympathy and consideration and do all that they can to assist and reassure them.

Financial support for persons who suffer injury as a result of the activities of criminals is provided for under the scheme of compensation for personal injuries criminally inflicted. As the Deputies will be aware, it was found necessary to amend this scheme with effect from 1 April 1986 to provide that compensation would not be payable in respect of pain and suffering attributable to injuries sustained on or after that date.

As regards legal aid, a scheme of civil legal aid and advice is already in existence and it would be possible for a victim of crime who wished to seek civil damages against the prepetrator of a criminal injury to obtain legal aid under this scheme provided that the applicant fulfilled the eligibility and other criteria of the scheme.

I should mention also that the Irish Association for Victim Support is assisted by a grant-in-aid from my Department.