COVIS – Court Based Support Services for Victim and Witness of Crime
COVIS is an acronym for the EU project that Victim Support Sweden runs for two years. The English term for the project is Court Based Support Services for Victim and Witness of Crime. The project is led by Victim Support Sweden with partners from APAV Portugal, V-sac Ireland, RIKU Finland, Offerrådgivningen Denmark and also Victim Support Europe.
The project started on 1 September 2022 and runs until 31 August 2024. COVIS aims to build knowledge and provide tools to establish and deliver quality court based support services for victims and witnesses of crime, to meet the needs and rights of all victims/witnesses participating in criminal proceedings.
The structure of the project
- The project begins with a mapping study to identify which countries in the EU today deliver witness support, how it is organised, what factors and indicators are considered crucial for a well-functioning business.
- In order to ensure that witness support delivered within the project is of a high quality and to map the impact of witness support, a method for evaluating witness support activities will be developed and implemented in Sweden and Portugal. The impact of witness support applies to both individual victims and witnesses as well as the legal system at large.
- In order to spread knowledge about the accessibility, purpose and value of witness support activities, we will in the project produce information material for the target group’s victims and witnesses, partners and the general public.
- The project has also included expansion of Victim Support Sweden’s digital case management system and digitalisation of the court based support services.
- Furthermore, the project includes exchange and interaction between different countries in the form of study visits and webinars where participants get the opportunity to share lessons learned, discuss practical solutions and tips on organizing witness support in practice.
- An EU Best Practice Handbook for witness support will be compiled based on the project’s mapping, collected information, evaluations, study visits, exchanges and lessons learned. The handbook will include a conversational method for witness support and is intended to serve as a manual for countries that want to establish, develop and deliver witness support activities. This is to best meet the needs of witnesses and victims summoned to testify in court, in accordance with EU law on victims’ rights.
- An overall EU policy will also be developed regarding witness support and this to clarify the project’s view of what conditions and factors are required for a well-functioning witness support business.
- The project ends with a conference in Brussels.
By capturing expertise from across Europe and sharing best practice and tools how to deliver court based support, the project serves to:
- Promote the rights of all victims of crime
- Improve practical application of victims’ rights
- Better meet the needs of all victims/witnesses called to give evidence in a criminal trial, minimising the risk of secondary victimisation and empowering the victim/ witness to overcome the negative consequence of crime
- Contribute to a safe environment in court, strengthening victims’/witnesses’ ability to provide their best possible evidence, and thereby supporting the effective and fair administration of criminal justice
- Support the coherent application of EU law in line with the EU strategy on victims’ rights (2020-2025)
The impact of the project includes
- Improved knowledge and tools to set up, administer and deliver court based victim/witness support services, to fulfil EU victim rights in connection with criminal proceedings
- Enhanced understanding of impact of court based support service, both for individual victims/witnesses and criminal justice system as a whole
- Better awareness amongst service users, partner agencies and general public of the aim, value and availability of court based support services across the EU
- Improved working arrangements, cooperation and communication between partner agencies and court based victim/witness support services
- Improved quality of victim/witness support service, making victims feel safer, more informed, minimising negative impact of crime and risk of secondary victimisation in connection with criminal proceedings
- Tools for quality assurance of the activities in court through, among other things, a methodology and handbook
- Uniform information material for all target groups
The target groups of the project are:
- Victims and witnesses summoned to participate in a trial
- Staff and volunteers within court-based support
- Partners in the judiciary
If you have any project-related questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Malin Bengtsson at email@example.com or Frida Wheldon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.