Article 37 – Coordinated system for communication with victims

Article 37 – Coordinated system for communication with victims

1) Member States shall facilitate communications between victims and those responsible for working with victims of crime in the context of criminal proceedings and with respect to the support of victims, through a national communication co-ordination mechanism.

2) Such a framework shall be established as part of the national co-ordination framework as referred to in Article 36.

3) The communication mechanism shall include actors actively working with or for victims including law enforcement, prosecution authorities, judges, detention authorities, restorative justice services and victim support services from government and civil society and shall organise and coordinate the delivery of information to victims in a consistent manner across Member States territories and enable victims to communicate with relevant organisations.

4) The Communication framework shall establish:

a) What information should be communicated to victims, how, when and by whom;
b) Mechanisms and protocols for intra- and inter-agency cooperation for the communication of information to victims;
c) Member States shall take the necessary legislative measures to allow for collection and sharing facilitate the sharing of information, including information containing personal data of victims, between competent authorities working with victims and between those authorities and victim support services to ensure access to information and appropriate support and protection of individual victims

5) Member States shall establish a single dedicated website to provide information to the public on victims’ rights, available victim services, functioning of the justice system and links to relevant procedures and application processes.

6) Member States shall ensure enhanced measures addressing the needs of victims who face higher barriers to communication, including but not limited to, victims who are residents of a Member State other than that where the crime was committed, victims with disabilities, and child victims.

7) Member States shall ensure that the content of information communicated to victims is developed together with civil society organisations and content is consistent and regularly updated to ensure accuracy.

COMMENTARY – Article 37

Whilst the European Commission has proposed improvements on information provision through e.g. establishment of 116 006 helplines, they have largely left information rights unchanged.

Given the essential nature of information and the significant problems faced by victims, VSE proposes a more comprehensive and systemic approach to communicating with victims.

Recent research[1] indicates that many gaps remain in how information rights, included in the 2012 Directive, are implemented and that current mechanisms for information provision are not working. Inconsistencies, gaps, duplication, and confusion are observed in the provision of information to victims by authorities. A distinct lack of coordination between authorities has also been observed.

Given that the right to information has existed for decades, a shift in approach is required to make this right a reality, and to support authorities which struggle to communicate with large numbers of victims with diverse needs across multiple crimes.

Fundamentally, this requires a system of communication that encompasses all relevant actors working together. It also requires that communication rather than information is prioritised – this means both informing victims, and helping them to inform authorities in an understandable and actionable manner.

Using a victim-centric communication system, stakeholders working with victims ‘operate in a coordinated and strategic manner to send and receive consistent and high-quality information to and from victims, in accordance with agreed standards and objectives.[2]

“The framework […] defines what information should be communicated by who, when, and how, based on a strategic vision and needs assessments. It also provides the framework for the long-term planning, development, implementation and review or evaluation of communications. A communication framework should operate at multiple levels including at the national, regional, local and individual level.”

This vision and objectives are to be converted into day-to-day cooperation measures, such as memorandums of agreement, inter- and intra-organisational procedures and protocols, and tools and platforms to implement them.

In VSE’s view, the long-term failure to implement information rights can only be resolved through such a systemic approach.

[1] Transforming how we communicate with victims, Victim Support Europe, 2023, available at:

[2] Ibid.