Interinstitutional cooperation to support child victim of crime in Vidin region – achievements and challenges

Interinstitutional cooperation to support child victim of crime in Vidin region – achievements and challenges

Dr Nadya Stoykova, Director of Program “Children and justice – prevention of violence”, presented an analysis of the implementation of the model for integrated approach in cases of child victims of crime during a round table in Vidin. The event was attended by prosecutos, judges, representatives of the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior, Direction “Social Assistance”, and the Complex for Social Services for Children and Families – Vidin.

The model implements the requirements of Directive 2012/29/EC with respect to the rights of child victims. The model is piloted in court district Vidin since April 2015 and the objective is to meet the specific needs of protection, because of the high risk of secondary and repeat victimization, intimidation and of retaliation.

Applying and integrated approach in cases of child victims implies a multidisciplinary team and interinstitutional partnership between social worker, investigating or other police officer. According to the specifics of the case, the team should include a medical specialist and a prosecutor. The coordination of the actions of the team for the region is carried out by the Complex for Social services for children and families in Vidin. The work on each case starts with an initial evaluation of the risk for the child, as early as the signal for crime/ violence is received. This initial evaluation is used to identify the necessary measures to guarantee the protection, rehabilitation and support for the child and its family.

The practice shows that the partnership with the Police and the Procesution is extremely important, in order to reduce the risk of secondary victimization of the child. The most important conditions that lead to violation of the rights of the child and increase the risk of victimization are identified in the phase of the police investigation. In Vidin court district we would like to expand the scope of the Coordination mechanism for cooperation in cases of violence (CM), and include a Prosecutor as a mandatory party in the meetings of the CM, and not an optional participant which is the current situation.

Despite the existence of a common understanding that children’s’ needs should be taken in consideration and that children’s interests should be respected, the interinstitutional cooperation remains difficult, mainly because of the lack of a unitary procedure for interinstitutional cooperation in cases of child victims. Another significant problem for the professionals are the different delays for the separate structures. An opportunity to overcome this difficulty could be the activation of a Protocol for interinstitutional cooperation, that was presented and discussed during the meeting. The Protocol regulates the fast and clear coordination between the institutions for protection and justice and clearly defines the roles and responsibilities in every single case.