Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan TD has said that the latest crime statistics published by the Central Statistics Office today underscore the need for Government to lend its support to the party’s bill to allow victims of sexual offences access to their own legal advice and representation.
The CSO revealed earlier this afternoon that the number of incidents reported in 2017 that were related to sexual offences has risen for another year running.
Deputy O’Callaghan will be introducing the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2018 in Dáil Éireann tomorrow. This Bill seeks to afford greater support and protection to victims of alleged offences involving sexual violence, gender based violence or violence in a close relationship.
Speaking in advance he said, “As a trend, the rise in crimes of a sexual nature in this country which was revealed earlier today is hugely worrying and must be addressed. Crimes of a sexual nature tend to be among the most complex and aggressive there are but a victim should always feel encouraged and supported to pursue justice.
“A number of concerns have been raised in recent times regarding how trials relating to sexual offences are conducted and what supports are offered to a complainant(s) for the duration of a trial. I am bringing forward this legislation to ensure that we adopt a different approach and that a complainant will receive State funded legal advice and representation from the time when they make a complaint of a sexual offence, gender based or domestic violence.
“The law should ensure that victims of sexual violence are provided with information and legal advice about the complex legal process in which they will become involved.
He concluded, “Many victims can be intimidated and surprised by the trial process. Our legislation will ensure that they are provided with all relevant information and support at the earliest stage of the criminal investigation.”