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Thursday 29 September 2016

Victims of crime find out why DPP didn't prosecute

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

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

More than 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.

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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 already 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 refused in 68. Some 49 requests are currently under consideration.

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

The 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.

Barristers' fees

"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," Ms Loftus 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.

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 that 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 that fees paid to barristers to prosecute cases jumped by €1m in just two years - from just over €13m in 2013 to €14m last year.

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

The new court was established in October 2014.

Irish Independent

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