Article 11 – Helplines for victims of crime

Article 11 – Helplines for victims of crime

1) Member States shall take the necessary measures to establish easily accessible, user friendly, free of charge and confidential victims’ helplines which,

a) provide victims with the information referred to in Articles 4 and 9;
b) offer emotional support;
c) refer victims to relevant services including generic and specialised support services and/or specialised helplines if needed.
d) are operated by trained and supervised individuals following standards of quality support

2) Member States shall ensure the provision of helplines referred to in paragraph 1 through a telephone helpline connected to the EU harmonised number “116 006” and through other information and communication technologies, including websites.

3) Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure the availability of the services referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 in other languages, including at least the languages most used in the Member State and through availability during appropriate times.

4) Helplines shall be operated by an organisation specialised in delivering victim support, may be set up either by public or non-governmental organisations and may be organised on a professional or voluntary basis.

COMMENTARY – Article 11

The European Commission proposed a new obligation on Member States to set up 116 006 support helplines.

VSE strongly supports this proposal as 116006 helplines greatly increase access to assistance, both through the service itself and through referrals to support services, or direct appointments for face-to-face support.

We have proposed some changes, which reflect best practice experiences of members of VSE’s Centre of Excellence for Distance Support; members include all current operators of the 116 006 helpline:

  • Requirement to establish 116006 helplines: the Commission proposes only that necessary measures are taken. Given the poor implementation of support services under the current Directive, it is important to define clear obligations which can be effectively monitored.
  • Referrals to all relevant services: the Commission proposal focusses only on specialist services whereas, importantly, the helplines refer individuals to the most appropriate service, including generic support.
  • Helplines work to identified standards and are operated by trained personnel: in line with requirements on support, minimum quality standards of professional service must be implemented to avoid inconsistent experiences across the EU.
  • Helplines are operated by a service specialising in delivering support: support helplines cannot be operated by just any organisation. The needs of and assistance to victims require specialist skills, knowledge, and training. States may seek to incorporate this service within existing social services; however, this may mean that staff working with victims are not appropriately qualified, that resources are diverted to other priorities, and that the service itself is less visible. While 116 006 helplines may be delivered by civil society or state entities, the Directive should not be misconstrued or used to require or result in the replacement of existing 116 006 services.