In criminal law, both the witness and the aggrieved party are subject to special protection. This is specified in the Act of November 28, 2014 on the protection and assistance for the victim and the witness.
The Act defines the principles, conditions and scope of application of protection and assistance measures for the victim and witness and their relatives, if there is a threat to the life or health of these people due to pending or completed criminal proceedings or fiscal penal proceedings.
Assistance and protection measures may be launched not only during the ongoing criminal proceedings, but also after their completion and before their formal initiation, which means that also in the course of operational, reconnaissance and checking activities.
At the outset, it is worth emphasizing that when assessing the degree of threat to the life or health of the victim, witness or their relatives, their personal properties and conditions, relationship with the perpetrator, type, manner and circumstances of the act and the perpetrator's motivation are taken into account. This means that not in every case special protection measures are applied to the victim or witness.
- protection for the duration of a procedural act
Protection for the duration of a procedural action may consist in the presence of Police officers in the vicinity of a protected person during a procedural action with her participation, on the way to the place where this action is performed or on the way back.
- personal protection
Personal protection may be granted in the case of a high degree of threat to the life or health of the protected person in connection with criminal or penal fiscal proceedings, if there is a need for long-term protection, in cases whose examination in the first instance falls within the competence of a district court. It also applies in cases of offenses referred to in Art. 197 § 1 and 2 (rape and extortion of sexual activity) and art. 207 (bullying) of the Criminal Code. In particularly justified cases, personal protection may also be granted in other cases. Personal protection may consist of:
- permanent presence of Police officers in the vicinity of the protected person;
- temporary presence of Police officers in the vicinity of the protected person;
- temporary observation of the protected person and the environment in which he is;
- indicating to the protected person safe places to stay as well as the time and safe manner of movement;
- determining the scope, conditions and manner of contact of the protected person with other persons.
- assistance in changing the place of stay
Assistance in changing the place of stay may be provided in the event of a high degree of threat to the life or health of the protected person, if there is a need for long-term protection, and other measures (protection for the duration of a procedural action or personal protection) may be insufficient. This assistance consists in undertaking organizational activities enabling the protected person to stay in a place other than the current one by:
- providing a temporary housing unit ensuring that basic living needs are met;
- assistance in renting an apartment;
- assistance in moving or arranging;
- assistance in dealing with important life matters related to the change of the place of stay.
- psychological assistance
In the event of a threat to the mental health of the aggrieved party, witness or their relatives, the authority may inform the aggrieved party or witness about the possibility of obtaining psychological assistance. This assistance is provided by entities that have received a subsidy for this purpose from the Victims' Assistance Fund and Post-penitentiary Assistance or other entities providing psychological assistance.
- financial assistance
A person who has been assisted in changing the place of stay, who has no sources of income or is unable to work due to a threat to life or health, may be granted financial assistance for:
- meeting basic life needs;
- covering all or part of the costs of temporarily providing a flat or renting a flat;
- covering the costs of obtaining healthcare services.
In order to strengthen the protection of victims and witnesses, Art. 18 of the above Act, a ban on evidence, which forbids taking evidence in order to reveal the circumstances of granting and implementing protection and assistance measures.
Means of protection and assistance are provided by the provincial (capital) commander of the Police, in whose district the persons to whom the protection or assistance measure is to be applied, are staying.