The Victim Services Europe Conference took place at the Kilmainham Royal Hospital in Dublin on May 17–18, 2017. The conference, organized by Maria McDonald of the Victims’ Rights Alliance was hosted by the VRA in conjunction with Advocates for Victims of Homicide (AdVIC), Victims Support NI and Victim Support Europe. The event served to bring together people with experience and interest in victim services to share learning. The international conference attracted delegates from across Europe and beyond. Attendees included government officials, people from support organisations, police officers, policy makers, lawyers, and academics, each with a unique perspective to offer. The event attracted about 200 delegates.
The conference was opened by Minister Frances Fitzgerald. The daily schedule included two plenary speeches and a series of workshops. Plenary speakers included representatives of the FBI, Europol, the US Department of Justice, the European Commission and leading victim support organisations.
The conference included a distinct focus on victims of hate crime. Paul Giannasi (Head of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Programme UK) gave a plenary paper on victims of hate crime, whose specific support needs were also addressed in the plenary paper from Michèle de Kerchove, President of INAVEM.
Jennifer Schweppe (School of law) and Amanda Haynes (Sociology) of the Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG) at the University of Limerick presented a dedicated workshop, co-authored with intern Emma MacIntosh, on victims of hate crime. The HHRG is the only research group in Ireland dedicated to the study of hate crime. The group conducts interdisciplinary translational research on hostility towards difference. The HHRG works closely with a number of NGO partners and in this workshop they presented the findings of an Irish Research Council funded project on civil society hate crime monitoring systems. Jennifer Schweppe highlighted the importance of NGO monitoring systems to supplementing official data in the face of underreporting and underrecording, while Amanda Haynes provided an overview of the emotional and behavioural impacts of hate crime on its victims. The workshop, which was presented to a full room, highlighted the gap between monitoring systems tailored to victims of hate crime and generalist support services. It addressed the distinctive support needs of victims reporting hate crimes to official and third party systems and Jennifer Schweppe addressed legal obligations upon the state to develop bespoke services for this group. Shane O’Curry from ENAR Ireland contributed an overview of a European civil society online training programme on hate crime to the workshop.
The HHRG extend their appreciation to the AHSS Faculty Research Committee for their support for this undertaking.