12 Jul What is VSM’s role in Maltese society?
By Dr. Roberta Lepre, Director
Prof. Saviour Formosa’s CrimeMalta Annual Crime Review 2015 offers a unique insight into the way criminal activity is evolving over the years, and offers some interesting arguments into the new manner in which, as a society, we should combat criminal activity. Amongst some very interesting comments and observations, he states the following :
‘It is high time that the focus on crime has to move away from the perception that the mitigation is simply a role that the Police force should fulfil to one of a collective Social Responsibility. Social Capital is provided through the PREFE structures, of which the Police Force form a part, but the essential aspects that will pivot towards offence mitigation lies in the enhancement of Social Cohesion through awareness raising, values redefinition, self-respect and the will to report and stop offences. Such a process requires a sea change in both the Police Force and relative enforcement agencies remit as well as civil society through NGOs and self- help groups’ (emphasis added).
And this is where we come in. As an independent, non-profit organisation, the vision of Victim Support Malta is that of an adequate criminal justice system which upholds the rights of victims and provides protection and redress for the most vulnerable. To this end, since our inception, we have been providing direct services to victims in order to empower them through the provision of information and support which help them navigate through this daunting process – essentially, we try to make the unbearable a little bit more bearable, and the unknown a little bit more familiar. Besides this, throughout our more recent years, we have embarked on numerous advocacy and awareness-raising initiatives with the aim of fighting a culture of victim blaming and of asserting the role of the victim in the criminal justice process. Our efforts are not enough.
There is now legislation aimed at ensuring that victims are treated in a dignified and respectful manner; however the principles embedded in this legal text are barely known to those who should be responsibilised to translate those principles into practice. We need to work together, as organisations and individuals, to link the various pieces together and ensure a more positive outcome for victims. Awareness and capacity building are the first steps. If you want to know more about victims’ rights, or how you, as an individual or an organisation, can make a difference, please do get in touch. We are only a phone call or an email away!