Victims of Crime Advice
Victims of Crime
The following sets out what you can expect from the Criminal Justice System as a victim of crime. It contains information about organisations that you can contact for free advice, practical information or emotional support.
Reporting your crime
Thank you for reporting the incident to the police. The decision to contact the police can be stressful and you might be worried or concerned about its implications. If you would like advice or support, there are many people who can help.
Support for victims of crime
As a victim of crime, the police will pass your information to Victim Support. If you have been a victim, you may need practical help and information. Victim Support is a national, independent charity whose trained volunteers and staff can help you. Their services are free, confidential and available to everyone, regardless of when the event happened. You might find it helpful to talk to one of their staff if you found the experience distressing. If you need more specialised advice or support they will also be able to refer you to a more suitable organisation. To find out more, visit http://www.victimsupport.org.uk/ or call 0845 30 30 900
If you have been a victim of violent offence, you may be eligible for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). You can apply for compensation whether someone has been prosecuted for the offence or not. To find out more, visit: http://www.cica.gov.uk/ or call CICA on 0800 358 3601
Working together with the police to investigate your crime
To help the police investigate your crime, you must inform them of the following:
- If you remember something not already included in your current statement.
- If your contact details change.
- If the crime involved any type of hostility, for example if you were targeted because of your race, sexuality, religion, disability or gender identity, or perceived race, sexuality, religion, disability or gender identity.
- If you have any specific needs, for example, mobility, communication or religious requirements.
In some cases if someone is arrested and charged, The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will decide whether to prosecute or not and whether to take your case to court. To find out more about the CPS, visit: http://www.cps.gov.uk/ or call 0203 357 0000
Going to court as a witness
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is responsible for running all of the Courts. To find out more visit: www.direct.gov.uk/en/crimejusticeandthelaw/victimsofcrime/index.htm
There is a 'Going to Court - A Step by Step Guide to Being a Witness' DVD which explains what happens at court. Copies can be obtained from the Witness Care Unit (see below) or viewed online at www.direct.gov.uk/goingtocourtvideo
In addition HMCTS has a 'You are a Prosecution Witness' leaflet on services and facilities available at individual Crown and Magistrates Courts or viewed online here
The Witness Service, run by Victim Support, helps victims and witnesses attending court. They are trained staff and volunteers who you can talk to about what to expect before going to court during a pre-trial visit, and who are present to support you at court. Please note, the Witness Service cannot discuss the case or the contents of your evidence with you. To find out more, visit http://www.victimsupport.org.uk/ or call 0845 303 0900
The joint police/CPS Witness Care Unit will provide you with a single point of contact after the point of charge about the progress of your case, including the date of hearing. They can also give you information on claiming expenses for attending court, including travel, pre-trial visits, allowances for meals, loss of wages and child care. To find out more, visit: www.cps.gov.uk/news/fact_sheets/witness_care_units/
Protection against harassment or intimidation
If you are harassed or threatened in any way during an investigation or a trail, you should contact the police immediatly. If the offender is remained in custody, released on bail or convicted, the criminal court can make a restraining order. Victims and witnesses are also protected against witness intimidation for up to a year after the conclusion of a trial.
Victims who feel intimidated or vulnerable because, for example, they are young or disabled may require help providing evidence. In these cases, witnesses may be entitled to 'special measures' at court to assist them give their best evidence. Special measures are provided at the discretion of the Judge or Magistrate.
Special measures may include a live link to the court room, so the witness does not have to give evidence in the court room, the use of screens inside the court room so the witness cannot see the defendant when giving evidence, visually recorded evidence in chief, the removal of wigs and gowns, or video recorded cross-examination. Other measures are available to assist witnesses with communication difficulties to allow them to give their best evidence, such as the use of an intermediary who will explain the questions put to them and help the court understand their answers.
Conviction, sentence and parole
When someone is convicted of an offence and sent to prison, they pass into the care of the Prison Service.
If the offender in your case was under 18, you may be contacted by the Youth Offender Team (YOT) to see if you want to be involved in a restorative justice intervention.
If the offender in your case was convicted of a sexual or violent offence and sentenced to a year or more in prison, including offenders being treated by mental health service, the Probation Service will keep you informed about the key points in offender's sentence. To find out more, visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/CrimeJusticeAndTheLaw/PrisonAndProbation/DG_181731
In some cases, the Parole Board decide when offenders can safely be released from prison into the community. To find out more, visit http://www.paroleboard.gov.uk/
Your rights and the service you should expect
As a victim you receive support and services under the Code of Practise for Victims of Crime (The Victims Code). The Victim's Code sets out the services you can expect from the criminal justice agencies. You can also make a complaint under the Victims Code if you are unhappy with the service you receive. You can obtain a copy of the Victims Code from: www.cps.gov.uk/legal/v_to_z/victims_code_operational_guidance/
The Victim Personal Statement (VPS) provides an opportunity for victims to have a voice in the criminal justice process. It enables you to tell the court and the Parole Board how the offence has affected you or your family. To find out more, visit: www.paroleboard.gov.uk/victims_and_families/making_a_victim_personal_statement
You can find more detailed information about support and services for victims and witnesses at http://www.direct.gov.uk/
Citizens Advice - They can help with financial problems or advice, legal issues or other practical problems. To find out more, visit: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ or call 0845 126 4264