Written Answers. - Crime Victims.

Pat Upton

Question:

146 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice the plans, if any, she has to introduce legislation to help victims of crime and to deal with the problems of muggers and attacks on the elderly; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

A major programme of criminal law reform is under way in my Department at present and, as proposals are finalised, they will be announced in the usual way in due course.

In relation to legislation to help the victims of crime, I would point out to the Deputy that the plight of victims is to the forefront in the on-going process of devising proposals to reform the criminal law. In this regard I would specifically refer the Deputy to the Criminal Evidence Act, 1992 and the Criminal Justice Act, 1993. The former Act contains provisions designed to make it easier for victims of certain crimes to give evidence; the latter, as well as providing for a procedure allowing for an appeal against unduly lenient sentences, contains measures making it incumbent on the courts to take into account any effect of crimes on victims in determining the appropriate sentence to be imposed and allows the court to order payment of compensation to the victim. In relation to the Deputy's specific reference to legislation to deal with the problems of muggers and attacks on the elderly, I would be happy to take into account any representations which the Deputy would be in a position to make suggesting particular changes of the law which he believes would be helpful in this area. In this connection I might also refer the Deputy to the contents of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 1993 which was published yesterday which,inter alia, gives the Garda power to direct persons loitering in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable apprehension for the safety of persons or property, or for the maintenance of the public peace, to leave the vicinity.