Article 14 – Reporting of a crime and measures facilitating the act of reporting

Article 14 – Reporting of a crime and measures facilitating the act of reporting

1) Member States shall ensure that all victims may report a crime to the competent authorities in a safe and easy manner through multiple reporting mechanisms and safety measures.

2) Member States shall take the necessary measures to encourage any person who knows about or suspects, in good faith, that criminal offences have been committed, or that further acts of violence are to be expected, to report this to the competent authorities.

3) In accordance with procedures in national law, diversified reporting mechanisms shall include the possibility of reporting criminal offences and submitting evidence online or through other information and communication technologies, reporting criminal offences anonymously and through third-party reporting.

4) Member States shall ensure that the competent authorities coming in contact with a victim reporting a crime are prohibited from transferring victims’ personal data obtained as a result of reporting a crime, including the residence status of the victim, for purposes other than the processing of the victim’s complaint and the subsequent criminal proceedings to any other competent authorities, including migration authorities. The data shall not be transferred to any other authorities without the victim’s authorisation at any stage before, during, or after a criminal investigation.

COMMENTARY – Article 14

The European Commission introduces article 5a on Reporting of crime in its proposal. This new article ensures that Member States facilitate the reporting of crime by, amongst other means, enhancing accessible communication. VSE applauds the introduction of an article on the reporting of crime. The article specifically obliges Member States to ensure access to reporting for various victims, including access to user-friendly reporting mechanisms for children and people in detention facilities. The article also introduces a measure – called the “firewall principle” – that allows migrant victims to report crime to the police without information on their residence status being shared with immigration authorities. As previously indicated, VSE is concerned about the focus on people in detention facilities, which does not consider persons in mental health and social care institutions, in orphanages, or in retirement homes. VSE suggests aligning this definition with the UN and ECHR definitions of deprivation of liberty, which encompasses all places where: i) persons are not free to leave; ii) staff and authorities exercise total control over a person’s movement; iii) persons require assistance by staff or authorities for all activities of daily living.[1] VSE is also concerned about the restrictive interpretation of the “firewall” principle, which does not offer sufficient protection to victims of crime with irregular residence status. It ensures that migrant victims can report a crime to the police without having information on their residence status being shared with relevant immigration authorities. However, this obligation is only

absolute until the completion of the first individual needs’ assessment. At this point, victims information could be passed on to immigration authorities thus defeating the purpose of the protection or indeed causing additional harm to victims.

Underreporting of crime, particularly by some victim groups, is well-documented. Victims face many barriers, when reporting a crime, that prevent them from coming forward. Such barriers can be categorised as follows: fear of a perpetrator, influence by victim’s social networks, administrative burden connected to the act of reporting, a lack of trust in the police and the criminal justice system and a perception that the crime is not serious enough to report. When victims do not report a crime, they may not have full access to the support and assistance they need, and offenders may escape punishment. In turn, this negatively impacts societal well-being.

The aim of the VSE proposal is to ensure that Member States have in place mechanisms that help overcome all barriers to reporting a crime. Our proposal makes explicit reference to solutions such as online reporting and evidence collection (removing the burden of physically attending a police station), anonymous reporting (allowing victims to initially report a crime without sharing their personal data, even if some data may later need to be shared to initiate criminal proceedings), and third-party reporting (to facilitate the reporting of crime when victims are unable to go to police themselves) for all victims of crime. Furthermore, we propose the introduction of an extended interpretation of the “firewall” principle, to ensure that no personal data is shared with authorities for reasons other than the complaint or subsequent criminal proceedings connected to the crime reported.

[1] This definition is included in Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, available at:; Association for the Prevention of Torture, Older persons deprived of liberty: addressing the risks of torture and ill-treatment: Contribution to UN Independent Expert Report (2022), available at:–association-prevention-torture-submission2.pdf; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Factsheet: Persons deprived of their liberty in social care establishments (2020), available at: