1363. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice her plans to implement the Justice Plan 2021 with particular reference to the relevant sections supporting a victim's journey and the availability of counselling; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18117/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I would like to assure the Deputy that protecting and supporting victims of crime for the duration of their journey through the criminal justice system is a key priority for me.
As the Deputy will be aware, following my reply to his question on the 24 th March 2021, the Justice Plan 2021 has a number of actions to advance the goal of strengthening community safety, reduce reoffending, support victims and combat domestic sexual and gender based violence, including through the implementation of Supporting a Victims Journey.
I am deeply committed to implementing in full all of the recommendations set out in Supporting a Victims Journey and I am chairing an Implementation Oversight Group comprising all relevant Departments and Agencies responsible for driving the implementation of the agreed actions.
As I stated in my previous reply, the provision of counselling services is not directly under my remit and falls to Tusla and the Department of Health. I can confirm that both are represented on the O'Malley Implementation group and are committed to delivering the recommendations as set out in Supporting a Victims Journey and to providing all relevant supports for victims of crime.
My Department is carrying out a mapping exercise to identify the nature, spread and level of services that may be encompassed by the ‘Supporting a Victim’s Journey’ plan and to identify where gaps in supports exist and how to ameliorate those gaps, as reflected in objective 133 in the 2021 Justice Action Plan. This work is indicative of our commitment to working in partnership with organisations that support victims of crime to ensure the victim’s perspective and voice is at the heart of what we do. Crucially important physical and emotional supports and services are provided by NGOs and the reform and development of these services is being progressed in a spirit of co-design between the State as funder and the voluntary sector as provider.
We have reviewed our grant schemes for organisations working with victims of crime. We asked each NGO to identify the precise categories of victims they work with, the services they provide and the geographical areas they work in. The funding available increased from some €2m in 2020 to some €4m this year. We have allocated most of the 2021 grant monies, but are still analysing the data to see where gaps remain so we can work to fill those. We are also offering multi-annual funding commitments to those NGOs we work most closely with and where the funding covers staff salaries – in the interest of promoting more sustainable service delivery and planning. These grants cover court accompaniment, accompaniment to Garda interviews and to sexual assault treatment units, emotional support, counselling and referral to other services.
We are also working with our NGO partners and others to map the journey faced by individual victims to identify issues and support needs not met. The working group leading on this task has met and the NGOs have presented us with a considerable amount of data, which is currently being analysed. When this analysis is complete, the group will reconvene to identify and agree actions to be taken to meet those needs.
The outcome of this work will be published as soon as practicable but I can confirm it is on target to be completed by the end of Q2 2021, as stated in Justice Plan 2021.