Minister Flanagan commences package of increased protections for victims of crime during trials
4 June 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan TD, has today announced that he has signed Orders commencing increased protection of victims of crime during trials. The protections being introduced include allowing the giving of evidence from behind a screen, the use of video evidence at trial stage and prevention from cross-examination by an accused person.
The Minister said: “I believe that the new provisions will ensure that victims of crime, particularly those under the age of 18, are protected during trials for serious offences by means of providing evidence from behind a screen, preventing them from being directly cross-examined by the accused person, and allowing recorded video evidence to be used at trial. I am also pleased that special measures including giving evidence via video-link or from behind a screen have now been extended to all victims of crime and the use of an intermediary or pre-recorded statement in the case of child victims will now be available to those victims.”
The provisions will also allow for the regulation of the disclosure of third party counselling records in sexual offence trials, as well as affording victims protection from further distress during these trials.
The Minister added: “This important new safeguard will ensure that the appropriateness of disclosing sensitive information may be considered at a pre-trial hearing and as a matter for the court, with regard for the sensitive nature of such records and the impact of these disclosures for victims.”
Note for Editors
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 was enacted on 22 February 2017. The majority of provisions of the Act came into effect on 27 March 2017 with a further commencement in February 2018. The Act can be accessed at https://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/acts/2017/a0217.pdf.
The Minister is today commencing the remaining provisions in Part 6 of the Act which provide for amendments to the Criminal Evidence Act 1992. These include new provisions around the disclosure of third party counselling notes and other amendments related to the cross-examination of witnesses.
Certain provisions of the Criminal Law (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 also provide for the amendment of the Criminal Evidence Act 1992.
The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 was enacted in November 2017 and the majority of provisions of the Act were brought into force at that time. A small number of provisions, extending the use of video-link evidence, screens and other court supports, had to be co-ordinated with the criminal evidence provisions of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act and these provisions will also come into force today.