‘Crime tracking’ facility slated for victims

Garda bosses are to examine the feasibility of installing an online ‘track-my-crime’ facility for victims.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the system could be among an “array of tools” gardaí could use to meet upcoming legal requirements to keep victims of crime informed.

The European Union Directive on Victims’ Rights must be enacted into Irish law next year and imposes a range of additional measures on the State.

“The EU directive envisages a situation where victims of crime are recognised and treated in a respectful, sensitive, tailored, professional and non-discriminatory manner, in all contacts with victim support or restorative justice services or criminal justice agencies, operating within the context of criminal proceedings,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

The Minister for Justice said the EU directive required a broader range of information on the progress of the investigation — and any subsequent court proceedings to be made available on request to victims of crime.

“I understand that one British police force developed a ‘track-my-crime’ online facility, which I am told is being extended now to other British police forces,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

“A ‘track-my-crime’ system has an intuitive appeal.

“As time goes by, people are becoming much more familiar with email, text, tracking systems, smart phones and apps in their interactions with commercial enterprises.

“Therefore, a suitable ‘track-my-crime’ facility, with the requisite security features to protect privacy, seems like one of an array of tools which An Garda Síochána might usefully consider.”

Responding to a question from Independent senator Rónán Mullen, Ms Fitzgerald said that any decision to implement such a system was an operational matter for gardaí, but said that the Government would support any upgrade of technology.

“I will ask the Acting Garda Commissioner to examine the desirability and feasibility of a scheme of the kind mentioned by the Senator and I will bring to her attention the remarks made in the House during this debate,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

“However, I would hope that if any such system was introduced, that it would complement, rather than replace the personal contact implicit in the new Garda victim liaison offices system.”

She said the piloting of two Victim Liaison Offices, in Waterford City and in Dublin, were a welcome development. “On foot of that trial An Garda Síochána have decided to establish similar offices in each Garda division to improve the flow of information to victims of crime,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

She said that work on the necessary legislation to implement the EU directive was ongoing in her department. She added that once a draft scheme was agreed by the Cabinet, it would then be sent to the Oireachtas Justice Committee for scrutiny.

Ms Fitzgerald said that she hoped to have the legislation enacted by November 16, 2015.

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