Article 42 – Training of professionals

Article 42 – Training of professionals

 1) Member States shall ensure that officials likely to come into contact with victims, such as police officers and court staff, receive both general and specialist training to a level appropriate to their contact with victims to increase their awareness of the needs of victims, to enable them to recognise victims and to treat them in an impartial, non-discriminatory, respectful and professional manner.

2) Without prejudice to judicial independence, and differences in the organisation of the judiciary across the Union, Member States shall request that those responsible for the training of judges and prosecutors involved in criminal proceedings make available both general and specialist training to increase the awareness of judges and prosecutors of the needs of victims. take measures, including through their public services and by funding, to support responsible training bodies and organisations to develop, deliver and ensure the receipt of training for practitioners, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, those providing victim support and restorative justice, health care professionals, translators and interpreters working with victims, and other professionals likely to come into contact with victims or who work on victims matters, where the government does not have oversight or control of the sector. Training shall cover general and specialist training appropriate to the nature and level of contacts with victims, to enable practitioners to recognise victims and to treat them in an impartial, non-discriminatory, respectful, professional manner, and to support the practical implementation and operation of victims’ rights.

3) With due respect for the independence of the legal profession, Member States shall recommend that those responsible for the training of lawyers make available both general and specialist training to increase the awareness of lawyers of the needs of victims.

4) Through their public services or by funding victim support organisations, Member States shall encourage initiatives enabling those providing victim support and restorative justice services to receive adequate training to a level appropriate to their contact with victims and observe professional standards to ensure such services are provided in an impartial, respectful and professional manner

3) In accordance with the duties involved, and the nature and level of contact the practitioner has with victims, training shall aim to enable the practitioner to recognise victims and to treat them in a respectful, professional and non-discriminatory manner. referred to in paragraph 1 and 2 shall, as a minimum:

a) Enable such professionals to acquire the skills and knowledge to identify and understand signs of victimisation, the needs of victims, the impact of crime and trauma, the national law and procedures relative to victims’ rights, including on protection measures, specificities of certain groups of victims, taking account their specific vulnerabilities;
Be organised to address skills and knowledge necessary to working with all victims as well as for specialised knowledge and skills to ensure targeted and appropriate responses for specific groups of victims, based on type of crime or personal characteristics;
Include sensitisation on the risks of secondary victimisation and ways to reduce it;
enable such professionals to develop soft skills to engage and communicate with victims in a victim sensitive manner;
e) be provided by specially trained professionals or other suitable persons on a regular basis, included on-boarding training and in lifelong career development. Member States shall encourage and fund training by non-governmental actors, including victims’ associations and civil society organisations. Innovative practices, including multi-agency training, the use of new technologies and interactive training should be promoted.

4) Without affecting media freedom and pluralism, Member States shall encourage and support the setting up of media training activities by media professionals’ organisations, media self-regulatory bodies and industry representatives or other relevant independent organisations, to combat stereotypical portrayals of victims, victim-blaming in the media, media intrusion in criminal justice proceedings, overall media induced secondary victimisation and to ensure victim sensitive engagement with victims in particular when interviewing them.

COMMENTARY – Article 42

The European Commission did not make changes to the article on training of practitioners in its proposal.

Crime impacts everyone differently. Crime, and victimisation, may not only be a physical experience, but one that disempowers the individual, in social and psychological terms: affecting a victim’s social bonds. For many victims, the impact of, or harm from a crime will be relatively low. Individuals are generally resilient to stressors; however, the nature and severity of a crime – and the victim’s personal circumstances – can dramatically affect its impact, two individuals could be affected by the same crime to a greater or lesser extent.

Training is a vital resource for professionals working with victims of crime[1]; inadequate or a lack of training can lead to victims being re-victimised. Being asked inappropriate questions by or encountering inappropriate behaviours from professionals also leads to re-victimisation[2].

The VSE proposal underwrites the importance for professionals likely to come into contact with victims to recognise signs of victimisation and victims, and treat them in a non-discriminatory manner. It also takes into consideration the duties of the professionals as well as the nature and level of contact the practitioner has with the victims. It also reflects the finding of the Commission’s evaluation of the VRD that stakeholders believe the training of judges to be overly formalistic and lack aspects relating to communication skills, and that overall topics such as ‘recognising one’s own bias, empathetic communication or active listening’ should be included in training.

The proposal recognises the limitations that States may have in ensuring the independent actors such as judges are properly trained. Whilst independence should not be jeapordised more proactive solutions should be sought such that all actors are properly qualified to work with victims.

Secondly, the VSE proposal calls for need for trainers to be qualified professionals or otherwise be deemed suitable as trainers (for instance, because of their practical experience of engaging with victims). Training organised and provided by non-State actors, including victims’ associations and CSOs is widespread[3] and States should provide the resources necessary to this effect, including providing trainers with training rather than just drawing on their experience in training others[4]. CSOs and national authorities should work together, CSOs are well placed to provide victim sensitization training for criminal justice officials, legal teams, and police officers.

An example of using civil society organisations to design and deliver training, is project ‘Hate no More’, coordinated by APAV and developed in a partnership with Austria, the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden, and Italy. This multi-agency project delivered training on hate crime victims to 147 law enforcement agents, 164 public prosecutors and 81 victim support workers in the six project countries.

Thirdly, VSE encourages innovative interdisciplinary, multi-agency training – specifically the incorporation and increased use of new technologies, to increase engagement and interaction – is highlighted in line with the findings of the Commission’s VRD evaluation report. The use of technology includes widely accessible online courses,[5] or the design of immersive training using Virtual Reality. [6]

Lastly, VSE proposal highlights that media coverage of crimes can inflict secondary victimisation on direct and indirect victims, as well as communities which identify with the victim, or victims of the same type of crime, as well as contributing to stigmatisation and isolation[7]. Portrayals of the perpetrator-victim duality can also lead to the stigmatisation of whole communities, through both victim-blaming and profiling[8]. Media reporting may enhance feelings of violation, disorientation, and loss of control. According to a report by the US National Centre for Victims of Crime, ‘common concerns victims express about the media include: interviewing survivors at inappropriate times, filming and photographing scenes with bodies and body bags, searching for the “negative” about the victim, printing the victim’s name or address, inappropriately delving into the victim’s past, and using footage from a previous social media video or post’.[9]

Some existing training tools for media practitioners provide guidance as to possible avenues of action, these include the UN Handbook on Media Coverage of Gender-based Violence, which incorporates a train the trainer component; guidelines by NGOs on media portrayals of victims, such as the Media Guidelines for Reporting Child Abuse by NAPAC (the National Association for People Abused in Childhood) or policy recommendations by agencies such as the US Department of Justice. Codes of conduct, policy documents, guidelines and handbooks contribute towards the continuous training of media professionals on issues of victims’ rights.


[2] IVOR Report (2016). Implementing Victim-Oriented Reform of the criminal justice system in the European Union. Available at:

[3] Strengthening victims’ rights: from compensation to reparation: For a new EU Victims’ rights strategy 2020-2025,

[4] Revised Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the Protection of Victims of Terrorism, 2017

[5] Council of Europe (2022),

[6] VSE (2022) TESTING COUNTER TERRORISM RESPONSES FROM A VICTIM AND MEMBER WELLBEING PERSPECTIVE Design of an international tabletop exercise for law enforcement in Canada and the UK. Available at:

[7] Paterson, J. L., Brown, R., & Walters, M. A. (2018). The Short and Longer Term Impacts of Hate Crimes Experienced Directly, Indirectly, and Through the Media. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(7), 994–1010.

[8] Kearns, E., Betus, A., & Lemieux, A. (2018). Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others? SSRN Electronic Journal. 

[9] National Centre for Victims of Crime, 2018, Privacy and dignity: a guide to interacting with the media. Available at: