Tuesday 17 October 2017

Over 200 victims of crime given answers on lack of prosecutions

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Legal Affairs Editor

OVER 200 victims of crime whose cases went unprosecuted have had the issues involved explained to them by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the past eight months.

Summaries of reasons not to prosecute have been provided since an EU directive on victims rights came into effect last November.

Although legislation has yet to be introduced in Ireland in response to the directive, the DPP has been abiding by it.

Since then the DPP has had 333 requests for reasons in cases where a decision was taken not to prosecute.

Reasons were given in 216 cases and reasons refused in 68. Some 49 requests are currently under consideration.

The figures are detailed in the DPP’s 2015 annual report, which was published today.

DPP Claire Loftus said the number of requests received was “very significant”.

A communications and liaison unit was set up in July 2015 to handle obligations under the directive.

“The EU directive is a very important measure establishing rights to assist victims who have suffered physically, emotionally and financially as a result of crime,” she said in the foreword to the report.

There remained, however, “limited exceptions” where reasons could not be communicated to victims.

In 78pc of cases last year where no prosecution took place, this was down to insufficient evidence.

Other reasons included the use of juvenile diversion programmes or adult cautions, while there were also cases involving undue delay or where injured parties withdrew complaints.

Since November there have also been 135 requests for reviews of decisions not to prosecute. None of these resulted in the original decision being overturned.

Prior to the directive being introduced the DPP only had a policy of explaining reasons not to prosecute in fatal cases.

This meant the number of cases was very small, with just 97 requests made between October 2008 and November 2015, of which 92 were granted.

Meanwhile, the report shows fees paid to barristers to prosecute cases jumped by €1m in just two years – rising from just over €13m in 2013 to €14m last year.

Ms Loftus said this was due partly to the lengthy trials and a significant increase in cases processed in the first full year of operation of the Court of Appeal.

Over half of those fees were paid to barristers operating in the circuit criminal courts.

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