Judges 'oblivious' to victims' plight
Published 02/04/2011 | 05:00
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has accused judges of being "somewhat oblivious" to the impact that even minor crimes could have on victims' lives.
He made the claim yesterday as he announced that he was bringing in legislation to strengthen the role of victims in the criminal justice system.
He said legislation already existed to require the courts to take account of the effect on victims of serious offences such as sexual and violent crimes.
But he intended to introduce measures that would widen the range of offences to include burglary, theft, road traffic incidents causing serious injury and crimes resulting from antisocial behaviour.
"Too frequently, the impact of these offences is not considered when the judiciary are passing sentence," he told a meeting of the Victims of Crime Consultative Forum in Dublin.
He said crime victims and their families must no longer be silent partners in the criminal justice process.
"Giving victims a real voice in is vital because it contributes to dignity, self esteem and the potential for moving on with one's life," Mr Shatter added.
The new measures will require criminal justice agencies to give relevant information to the victims.
Mr Shatter said if the concerns of victims were formally addressed in law, those concerns would take on an enhanced importance in the eyes of criminal justice officers, such as police, court officials or prison officials.