Victims of Crime and An Garda Siochana
An Garda Síochána (the Irish police and security force) works towards preventing crime, protecting the life, property and the human rights of each individual, and preserving the peace and public order. When crimes and offences happen, the Gardaí investigate them and try to bring those responsible to justice.
They do this by
- cautioning young offenders for a range of minor offences,
- prosecuting offenders in the District Court for less serious offences and
- reporting the results of investigations to the Director of Public Prosecutions and asking for direction for more serious crimes.
If you are a victim of crime, the Gardaí will respond in a timely manner to your report. They must give your case equal priority with other cases, whatever your gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, nationality, disability, economic circumstances, marital or family status or membership of any minority group.
If you are a victim of crime, you are entitled to information from An Garda Síochána. You will be told the name, telephone number and station of the investigating Garda and Garda record number on its PULSE system. You will also be informed about:
- your role in the criminal justice system
- the support services available
- the compensation schemes available
- how to access legal aid and your entitlement to certain expenses if the matter goes to court
The Garda Victim Service Offices will acknowledge your report of the crime and keep you informed of significant developments during the investigation. Where it is decided to prosecute or not to prosecute you, following an investigation into an incident, the Gardaí or the Director of Public Prosecutions will write to you to let you know of that decision. Sometimes you may be told in person.
Making a complaint/dealing with the Gardaí
When reporting an incident in person, you have a right to be accompanied by a person of your choice. You may also be accompanied in any later interviews. If the Gardaí reasonably believe that the presence of the person accompanying you would not be in your best interests or would harm any investigation or criminal proceedings, they may stop that person from accompanying you. If that happens, you can choose someone else to accompany you.
You can ask for a copy of any statement you provide to the Gardaí. They will also make whatever policing arrangements are necessary for your safety.
You can request details of any significant developments in the investigation from the Gardaí. These include:
- the arrest and charging of a person
- the nature of the offence with which they were charged
- the release on bail of a person (temporary release while waiting for their trial) or their remand in custody (when they are sent to jail while awaiting their trial)
- details of court dates, including the time, date and location of the court
- information on any release of a person or their escape from custody
Victims of serious crimes
If you or a family member are victims of certain serious crimes (such as a murder, road collision, kidnapping or serious assault), a Family Liaison Officer may be appointed to support and guide you through this traumatic time. The Family Liaison Officer will tell you about significant developments in the investigation and give you information on appropriate support services also available to you.
The Gardaí will show special sensitivity if you are the victim of a sexual offence. The Gardaí will try to make sure that the Garda and the doctor who are helping you are of the same gender. You will be told about special support agencies dealing with sexual offences.
Specific needs or communication needs
If you have any form of disability, the Gardaí will take any specific needs or requirements into account. All their communications with you will be in clear language.
If, for any reason, you have difficulty being understood or understanding their communications with you, the Gardaí can arrange support. This may include the provision of an interpreter or sign language support.
If you are an elderly person and you have been the victim of a crime, the Gardaí will take all possible steps to protect you and your home. For example, the local Community Garda and Crime Prevention Garda may call to you to offer advice and support.
Visitors to Ireland
If you are a visitor to Ireland and you are the victim of a crime, the Gardaí will, with your consent, refer you to the services of the Irish Tourist Assistance Service.
Where there is a decision not to prosecute
If you are informed that a decision is being made not to prosecute, you may ask for a summary of the reasons why. If you are not satisfied, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by the Superintendent at the Garda station where your incident was investigated, or, where appropriate, by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
You must generally ask for a summary of the reasons within 28 days and a review of the decision within 56 days. However, these timelines can be extended where there are special circumstances. The relevant forms are available at every Garda station.
Support in court
The Gardaí can also make special arrangements to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible during any trial. For example, this may include allowing you to enter the court through a private route or to meet the prosecutor in advance.
It may also be possible to request that:
- the public or certain people be excluded from court
- your evidence be given via a live television link
How to apply
Further information is available in Section 3 of Victims Charter (pdf).
Alternatively, you may also refer your concerns or make a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
Where to apply