A new Victims Charter has been published by the Minister for Justice John O'Donoghue. A significant element of the new Charter is the fact that victims will be able to request a review of a decision made in their case by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The 38-page document outlines what victims can expect from various state agencies involved in the Criminal Justice System as well as giving a lay-persons guide to the operation of the system.
The document sets out charters and mission statements from the Gardaí, courts and prison services, as well as the Probation and Welfare Service and the State Prosecution Service amongst others. It pledges to install special accommodation and facilities for victims and their families in all new and refurbished court buildings. It tells victims that they can expect Gardaí to keep them informed of the progress of an investigation, as well promising expanded use of video links for child victims as well as for vulnerable or intimidated witnesses.
Victims can now request the Director of Public Prosecutions to review a decision made in their case and the DPP will then decide if a review will be carried out. However, he will still be unable to inform victims of the reasons for any decisions he makes. The Minister for Justice has described the Charter as a major step forward and has generally received a warm welcome from groups involved in victims' support.