Victims of crime to receive added protection from EU

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By a Newsnet reporter

A proposal for greater rights for victims of crime in Europe is to be discussed at the European Parliament today. The Directive, which the UK has already said it will adopt, will establish minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.

This will mean that those who fall victim of crime whilst travelling elsewhere in Europe will receive the same minimum standards of treatment from the authorities as they would here in Scotland.

According to figures from 2008, as many as one British tourist in ten were victims of crime when travelling abroad during the preceding five years.   The worst country for crime against tourists is Thailand, where 10% of travellers reported being victims of robberies or other crimes.  

The country which receives most British visitors annually is Spain, where it is estimated that some 2.5% of visitors will fall victim to crime.  Crimes against tourists most typically involve bag-snatching or pick-pocketing.  Violent crime against tourists is relatively rare.

The new European Directive aims to ensure that whatever the crime and wherever the crime takes place throughout the EU, all victims:

• Have the same basic rights in criminal proceedings;
• Are treated with respect and dignity;
• Are protected from repeat or further victimisation;
• Have access to victim support services, justice and compensation; and
• Are entitled to have their specific needs assessed, with a view to granting them special protection during criminal proceedings.

Commenting, Alyn Smith MEP said:

“In Scotland we already have rights for victims of crime that are amongst the best in the world as well an excellent network of support from third sector organisations such as Victim Support Scotland who provide invaluable help and guidance. Now this Directive, if passed, will guarantee a minimum set of rights for victims across the EU, not just in Scotland.

“This should help give peace of mind to holidaymakers and business travellers across the continent. Scots will no longer find themselves with lesser rights when victims of crime in other EU states. There should be no more families like the family of Chris Lindsay who have been sorely let down by the Spanish legal system.

“I’m looking forward to the debate in Strasbourg tomorrow and hope to make a valuable contribution ahead of the vote the following day.”

A spokeswoman for Victim Support Scotland added:

“As a Scottish charity that has campaigned long and hard for victims’ rights, and with our Chief Executive David McKenna being also President of Victim Support Europe, we are delighted to see the prominence that the issue is gaining with this debate and vote in the European Parliament.

“We appreciate the help and support received from MEPs in the drive to take forward the rights of those who suffer through crime and we have worked closely with Alyn Smith MEP on this issue.

“Victim Support Scotland and Victim Support Europe are grateful for the help that he gave in co-hosting the VSE event at the European Parliament in March to publicise the drive for improved rights, and with the backing he continues to give, particularly in assisting with another EU event to be held in November to discuss the implementation of victims’ rights in practice.”