RCNI securing Justice for Victims
RCNI has a unique and specialist role in analysis of the justice system and supporting victims to gain justice. We have dedicated expert and specialist resources to support a wide programme of work for justice for victims of sexual violence. Our programme includes examination of whether our legal system is:
- effective in holding perpetrators to account
- effective in prevention of further crimes of sexual violence
- appropriate in delivering victims rights
- unduly causing additional trauma for victims who report
and additionally delivers infrastructure which equips support services and other agencies to meet survivors needs.
RCNI works to ensure our analysis, based on decades of working with victims, is shared with all stakeholders and informs the agenda for reform and practice with from a survivor centred point of view. Key to our leadership role in this area the RCNI, through the Legal Policy Director, chairs the Legal Issues Subcommittee of the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women. RCNI researches and produces a range of legal submissions and briefing papers in the course of the year.
Bills relevant to sexual violence and RCNI mission that RCNI will be monitoring Autumn 2017:
> In the Seanad for Autumn:
- Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) 2016, committee stage
- Domestic Violence Bill 2017, Committee stage
- Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015, Committee stage
> Government Priority legislation for Autumn:
- Data Protection Bill 2017 heads approved and PLS Completed July 2017
> Bills expected to get pre-legislative scrutiny this Autumn:
- Criminal Justice (Istanbul Convention) Bill
- Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Bill
- Criminal Justice (Sexual Offenders) Amendment Bill
> Other relevant Bills in pre-legislative stages but not expected to be listed this Autumn:
- Data sharing and governance Bill 2015
- Health Information and Patient Safety Bill 2015 (heads agreed Dec. 2016)
- Criminal Procedures Bill 2015 (heads agreed)
- Non-Fatal Offences against the Person (Amendment) Bill
Legal Support to RCCs
This includes information and advice to RCC personnel who are supporting survivors of sexual violence. RCC legal services nationwide are particularly important in meeting survivor’s needs at the points at which the progress of the case means they do not qualify for Legal Aid Board advice.
Specialist advice can cover:
- The Criminal Justice System
- Civil and family law aspects of their case
- Survivor options when the DPP decides not to prosecute
- General advice on civil as well as criminal aspects of their case when requested
- Appropriate referrals to Law Centres, Civil Solicitors and to criminal justice and other professionals
When appropriate RCNI supported local legal advisors will refer cases directly to the RCNI legal experts.
The RCNI Legal Division co-ordinates the RCC Court and Garda Accompaniment (CAGA) programme. CAGA is a service provided for free by Rape Crisis Centres throughout the country to support victims of sexual violence who are engaged or considering engaging with the criminal justice system. RCNI provides the nationwide specialist training for the Rape Crisis Centre volunteers and administers the funding to support the work of those volunteers. The project is funded by the Commission of the Support of Victims of Crime.
RCNI provides advice, on request, on legal aspects of RCNI Best Practice Standards for Rape Crisis Centres.
Supporting Inter-agency Cooperation
RCNI work in partnership with relevant agencies to support the best possible experience for Survivors throughout the justice system; for example RCNI have initiated the formation of local Garda/Rape Crisis Centre roundtables, whereby centres sustain regular informal meetings with local Gardaí. While RCNI have agreed with An Garda Síochána a set of questions to be included in the RCNI database to collate survivor’s experiences of the Garda service they received in order to support ongoing best practice within the force.
Publication of Specialist Reports
The RCNI has researched and produced specialist reports for legal practioners advising rape victims and for victims considering reporting.