Psychosoziale Prozessbegleitung in Niedersachsen - Übersetzung auf Englisch
Psychosocial Court Assistance in Lower Saxony
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A nationwide legal entitlement to psychosocial assistance as part of court proceedings was established on 1 January 2017. This entitlement was preceded by the enactment of the Law for the Protection of Victims' Rights in Criminal Proceedings (Gesetz zur Stärkung der Opferrechte im Strafverfahren) of 21 December 2015.
Psychosocial court assistance was newly incorporated in Section 406g of the German Code of Criminal Procedure. Upon request to the court, a psychosocial assistant can be assigned to certain groups of persons who have become victims of a serious crime. This assistance is free of charge.
The principles underlying psychosocial court assistance as well as the requirements for the qualification and compensation of specialists working in this sector are laid down in the Law on Psychosocial Court Assistance (Gesetz über die psychosoziale Prozessbegleitung im Strafverfahren).
What is psychosocial court assistance?
Psychosocial court assistance constitutes a particularly extensive form of support for victims of crime. Psychosocial court assistants provide comprehensive support to victims of crimes and, in certain cases, to their relatives, prior to, during and after criminal proceedings. They provide detailed information concerning all questions related to the criminal proceedings. With their work, psychosocial court assistants contribute to a minimisation of the victims' stress during criminal proceedings. They provide vital assistance in individual problematic situations of everyday life as well.
Ideally, psychosocial court assistance begins far in advance of the main hearing, in individual cases even before the incident is reported to the police. Depending on the victims' needs, assistance can be continued after the end of the criminal procedure.
Who can request psychosocial court assistance?
Psychosocial court assistance is aimed in particular at children and young people who have fallen victim to serious crimes such as violent and sex offences.
Adults who have experienced violent or sexual crimes and suffer from particularly severe consequences, or their relatives can request psychosocial court assistance. The same applies to persons who are unable to protect their own interests. The court decides on any request for the assignment of a psychosocial court assistant.
What does psychosocial court assistance cost?
Under certain circumstances (see overview), the court assigns psychosocial court assistance upon request. In such cases, no costs are incurred for the use of psychosocial court assistance. All other victims can also make use of psychosocial court assistance. The costs will not be covered by the court in these cases, however.
What is the aim of psychosocial court assistance?
Psychosocial court assistance aims at stabilising and empowering victims and reducing the individual's stress. The extensive, individual care and support provided by psychosocial court assistants contributes to the prevention of secondary victimisation, i.e. of becoming a victim all over again.
The willingness and ability of victims to act as witnesses is thus enhanced.
What does psychosocial court assistance not provide?
Psychosocial court assistance does not intend to help the victim cope with the crime itself. Neither is the crime discussed in detail.
Psychosocial court assistance cannot replace psychotherapeutic treatment or legal advice. It is an additional offer for victims in particular need of protection.
What qualifications do psychosocial court assistants have?
Psychosocial court assistants are experienced specialists who have received special interdisciplinary training, enabling them to cooperate with all professional groups involved in the criminal procedure. They are familiar with the functions and tasks of the parties involved in the proceedings as well as with both the circumstances of a trial and the consequences of the crimes for the victims. Psychosocial court assistants work in accordance with social workers' standards and
- provide comprehensive assistance in all areas of life which have been affected as a consequence of the crime;
- mediate between all parties involved in the proceedings and maintain a general overview;
- provide extensive information about the course of the investigation and criminal proceedings;
- provide information about rights and obligations of witnesses;
- if required, establish contact to other specialists such as physicians or therapists;
- provide the opportunity to discuss questions and uncertainties in a safe atmosphere.
Binding quality standards have been established for the conduct of psychosocial court assistance throughout the federal state of Lower Saxony. The currently valid quality standards can be found here (in German).
What are the requirements for becoming a psychosocial court assistant?
An appropriate qualification is required to work as a psychosocial court assistant. In Lower Saxony, a modularised, on-the-job qualification measure, based on the quality standards applicable in Lower Saxony was designed. It is being implemented by the Foundation for Victim Assistance in Lower Saxony (Stiftung Opferhilfe Niedersachsen).
The qualification is recognised by the Ministry of Justice of Lower Saxony in accordance with Lower Saxony's Act on the Execution of the Law on Psychosocial Court Assistance in Criminal Proceedings (Nds. AG PsychPbG).
Training and advanced training measures recognised by the federal state of Lower Saxony can be found here (in German).
In addition, qualified specialists in Lower Saxony annually take part in advanced training courses as part of quality assurance.
Who can I consult?
Koordinierende Stelle der psychosozialen Prozessbegleitung in Niedersachsen
Am Waterlooplatz 1
Telephone: +49 511/120-5095 or +49 511/120-5079.
Inhaltlich verantwortlich: Niedersächsisches Justizministerium, Abteilung IV