Victims of crime often feel that all the support available is aimed at the accused, rather than them. However, under the Victim’s Code (the Code), the police and the courts have a duty to impart certain information and provide support to victims of crime.
All victims of crimes that take place in England and Wales are entitled to support under the Code. Close relatives of people who have lost their life as a result of a crime are also covered, as are businesses and charities.
If you report a crime to the police, they will automatically pass your name onto victim support agencies in your area, unless you ask them not to.
The police will always seek you consent if you are:
You can also find contact details on the Victim Support website.
A victim personal statement (VPS) is an empowerment tool, used to provide the victims of crime with a voice in court. It allows them to express how the actions of the accused have affected their lives. A VPS can be recorded or put in writing. Once it is completed and signed it cannot be withdrawn; however, you can provide another one to the police with additional information included.
The court will make the final decision on whether the VPS is read out. If read out, this will be done prior to sentencing. You can ask to read out the VPS yourself or select someone else to do it. You can request that the VPS is not read out at all. If you choose to do this, the court will still consider your VPS before deciding on the sentence.
Special measures can be made for victims and/or witnesses who are particularly vulnerable. For example, screens concealing you from the accused can be erected around the witness box, or you can choose to give evidence via video-link.
Witnesses or victims can also request that the case be held in private.
The court will make the decision on whether or not special measures will be granted.
A witness care officer (WCO) is assigned by the Witness Care Unit at the court. Your WCO will act as your single point of contact and will keep you informed of the case's progress.
Your witness care officer will assess the needs of all victims and prosecution witnesses where defendants have pleaded not guilty. This helps to identify specific support requirements, such as childcare, transport, language difficulties, medical issues and to highlight areas of concern, for example if you feel that you may be subject to intimidation.
The WCO will also provide you with practical and emotional support through the trial.
If you have been the victim of a crime, it is important that you contact your solicitor so they can advise you on accessing the support you need to get through this difficult time.