Article 6 – Right to receive information about their case

Article 6 – Right to receive information about their case

1) Member States shall ensure that victims are notified receive without unnecessary delay of their right to receive at least the following information about the proceedings instituted as a result of the complaint with the regard to a criminal offence suffered by the victim and that, upon request, they receive such information, unless they object to receiving such information:

a) Any decision not to proceed with or to end an investigation or not to prosecute the offender;
b) The time and place of the trial, and the nature of the charges against the offender; 

2) Member States shall ensure that, in accordance with their role in the relevant criminal justice system, victims are notified without unnecessary delay of their right to receive the following information about the criminal proceedings instituted as a result of the complaint with regard to a criminal offence suffered by them and that, upon request, they receive such information

c) Any final judgment in a trial;
d) Information enabling the victim to know about the state of the criminal proceedings, including the apprehension of the suspect, unless in exceptional cases the proper handling of the case may be adversely affected by such notification.
e) Any decisions taken in criminal proceedings that affect the victim directly, at least in relation to those decisions set out in Article 20(1).

2) Information provided for under paragraph 1(a) and paragraph 2(a) 1(c) shall include reasons or a brief summary of reasons for the decision concerned, except in the case of a jury decision or a decision where the reasons are confidential in which cases the reasons are not provided as a matter of national law.

3) The wish of victims as to whether or not to receive information shall bind the competent authority, unless that information must be provided due to the entitlement of the victim to active participation in the criminal proceedings. Member States shall allow victims to modify their wish at any moment, and shall take such modification into account.

4) Member States shall ensure that victims are offered the opportunity to be notified, without unnecessary delay when the person remanded in custody, prosecuted or sentenced for criminal offences concerning them is released from or has escaped detention or where they have been transferred to a different detention location. Furthermore, Member States shall ensure that victims are informed of any relevant measures issued for their protection in case of release or escape of the offender.

5) Victims shall, upon request, receive the information provided for in paragraph 4 5 at least in cases where there is a danger or an identified risk of harm to them, unless there is an identified risk of harm to the offender which would result from the notification. Where there is an identified risk of harm to the offender which would result from the notification, Member States shall make a decision on whether to inform the victim of the release based on the examination of the risks to both parties.

6) Member States shall ensure that an online platform exists to provide information and updates to victims about their case as referred to in paragraphs 1 and 4. 

7) Member States shall ensure that information about any decision not to prosecute, the final judgment, and about the release or escape from detention of the person remanded in custody, prosecuted or sentenced for criminal offences concerning them, is provided in a manner minimising risks of secondary victimisation and emotional harm to the victim, including by providing the information to victims in person or orally, and by providing information about victim support services together with it.

COMMENTARY – Article 6

The Commission did not amend the right of victims to receive information about their case. However, proposal’s Article 26b (Use of electronic means of communication) introduces an obligation for Member States to ensure that victims are able to exercise a number of their rights, including the right to receive information about their case via the use of electronic means of communication (e.g. websites, online platforms, emails, etc). Whilst this amendment represents a positive first step, its language and scope remain vague and do not offer a solution that best addresses all victims’ needs in terms of accessing information about their case in a victim-sensitive manner. VSE’s amendment (Article 6, paragraph 6) suggests the introduction of a victim-friendly online platform, which reflects existing best practices and solutions that facilitate multi-agency platforms, empowering and individualising victims’ access to information, and offering multiple provision of information formats[1]. Such platforms can make the process more efficient, reduce repeated requests from victims, and reduce duplication or gaps in information, etc.

Further information about victims’ cases is currently unavailable, even when requested, or is not provided in a consistent and timely manner. This is, in part, driven by the notification process; therefore, VSE proposes that an obligation to provide information is added, whilst ensuring the victim’s right to refuse. This changes the nature of the obligation and increases the likelihood that the information will, in fact, be provided.

The current Directive also excludes access to information for victims who are not considered to have a role in proceedings. The information on proceedings in these articles is deemed to be the minimum essential information and should be available to all victims unless they refuse. This is reflected in VSE proposal.[2].

Under paragraph 1, VSE added the Commission’s provision from Article 10b in its proposal (article 20 in VSE Model Provisions paper), requiring victims to be informed about decision that affect them directly. This aims to facilitate the information provision to victims throughout proceedings by combining related obligations under this article. Victims’ right to review these decisions remains.

VSE recommends a balanced system for analysing and evaluating the risks to the offender and to the victim when providing information in paragraph 5. The current wording prioritises the risk to the offender over the risk to the victim by removing the right to information where there is such a risk. Rather, a risk assessment of both sides is necessary to make a proportionate decision.

Finally, when information provision is not carried out adequately and in accordance with a victim-sensitive and trauma-informed approach, it risks distressing and further victimising the victim[3]. Such a risk is severely increased if the information provided is problematic and stressful to victims, such as the release of an offender who may pose a danger to the victim. VSE therefore suggests that information that might bring distress to victims, on decisions not to prosecute, final judgments, and information regarding the release/escape of offenders from detention, is provided in a sensitive manner and combined with appropriate support.

These amendments are necessary to the fundamental provision of information during and throughout criminal proceedings. Improved provision of information leads to increased victim participation, hence impacts the outcomes of proceedings, and reduces the risk of secondary victimisation[4].

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

[2] Ibid.

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

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

Key Problems

1) Lack of effective mechanisms of information provision  

  • Two key reasons for victims not receiving information about their case are identified: firstly, due to the absence or incorrectness of victim’s contact details in the case file: mechanisms/procedures which allow the provision of information at all and in time (for example, through online platforms/case management systems) are inexistent or ineffective.  
  • Information not being available for or provided to victims. In many cases, basic information about the date and time of the trial, or updates about decisions, is not consistently provided to victims.  
  • Authorities often still fail to adopt a proactive role in providing victims with information and victims themselves must request and insist on receiving it. This results in inequalities between victims who are represented by a lawyer or receive support from victim support services, who will know where and how to look for information, and those who do not have such support and who are often left alone to look for the information.  
  • Even when they do request information, victims often do not receive it. For example, regarding information about the release date or escape of the perpetrator from custody, victims often (30%) do not receive the information, even when they request it. 

2) Information is not adapted to victims’ needs  

  • In most Member States, victims are not notified of their right to receive information about their case, or are not able to effectively understand it due to quality issues (described in Article 4) that impede victims from understanding the information they receive at the first contact.  
  • Information about the possibility to exercise their rights is not adequately repeated in time to victims. At the first contact, victims can often be overwhelmed with information while also in distress and might not fully apprehend the possibility to receive information about their case during proceedings.  
  • Information is most of the time provided in a complex and technical language which is not adapted to victims’ needs. Often, the legal complexity of the language used and the length and amount of information provided on materials discourage victims to read them and/or to act on their rights.  
  • Sensitive information for vulnerable victims should be accompanied by the provision of support or, at least, the provision of information about available support services they can contact. In the UK, for example, several suicide attempts were recorded after victims received a letter informing them that the offender was released from prison, due to the great shock, alarm and anxiety caused by the information.

3) Legal and administrative barriers  

A way of accessing case information is through the casefile, however, often, other legal and administrative barriers impede this process. For example, in Portugal, victims who request to see their casefile, face a complex administrative process, with the submission of a written request subject to approval. This access is sometimes restricted to the victim’s legal representative, as in Germany, which creates inequalities between victims who have a representative and those who don’t. In addition, the language of the casefile remains complex and difficult for any victim without legal education.  

Data on the Implementation of Right

Incidence of response to victims’ request for information 

Less than 37% of professionals agree that victims always receive information about their case when they do request it.  

Less than 35% of professionals highlight that victims often receive information about their case when requested.  

In the remaining almost 30% of cases, professionals agree that victims have very little to no access to information about their case that they had requested.  

(Source: VOCIARE Synthesis Report, Victim Support Europe, 2019

Frequency of notifying victims about the offender’s release or escape  

More than 40% of victims are never, rarely or only sometimes informed about the release or escape of the perpetrator.  

Only around 30% of professionals highlight systemic compliance with the right to be informed when victims request to know about such circumstances in their case.  

(Source: VOCIARE Synthesis Report, Victim Support Europe, 2019

Best Practices of Member States

Ireland: sub-service for Victim Liaison

The Irish Prison Service developed a sub-service, called Victim Liaison Service, within which when a crime victim so requests (by registering in the service), a Victim Liaison Officer provides information to the victims on any significant development- e.g. temporary releases, parole board hearings, prison transfers, and expected release date. 
The Victim Liaison Officer communicates with victims through a variety of methods including phone, text message, email, letter and skype. This practice is in accordance with the European Commission as suggested regarding the involvement of plural authorities in the notifications of the escape or release of the offender. Often, police do not have updated information and the prison services might be better informed and equipped to inform victims in a timely manner. Additionally, the possibility of victims being informed by text message or skype is also consonant with the Commission’s guidelines which encourage the use of new technologies to contact with the victims.

Cyprus: reviewing the victim’s case 

In Cyprus victims can request for their case to be reviewed as well as provide new information regarding their case. If they do not agree with the decisions regarding their case, victims have the right to make a formal complaint to the Police. 

Ireland: Information provision by the Prison Service 

The Prison Service has put procedures in place to ensure that they adhere to their obligations under the Victims’ Rights Directive.  

Over the course of the past few years the Prison Service has had an increase in people requesting information of when offenders are released from prison. This is in part because victims must request access to information from the prison service. If a victim does not know about the service, then they cannot access it and it appears that more victims are being informed of their right to request information.