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New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century - Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
20 pages
The significance of law enforcement's role in responding to crime victims is emphasized since police officers interact more often with victims than other professionals in the criminal justice system.
The way victims are treated by dispatchers, the first officers who arrive at the crime scene, and detectives investigating the case shapes victim expectations of how they will be treated throughout the criminal justice process. Therefore, law enforcement personnel who interact with victims, either in person or over the telephone, must know how to effectively respond. Victims must be treated with sensitivity and must be provided essential information and emergency assistance in the immediate aftermath of victimization. Federal and State laws mandate victim rights that law enforcement must fulfill. These rights generally include victim compensation, referral to victim services, the right to protection from intimidation and harm, the right to regular updates on the status of the investigation, and the right to be notified when the accused is released from custody. Ways in which law enforcement agencies are responding to victims are described, with particular attention paid to multidisciplinary teams and partnerships, community policing, victim-witness assistance standards, and training in how to deal with victims. Recommendations to better meet the needs of victims are offered, and a chart is included that summarizes a comprehensive law enforcement response to victims. 40 endnotes

Date Published: January 1, 1998