Q622: What steps must the police take with regards to victims of crime?
The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales sets out the services that a victim of crime can expect to receive throughout the criminal justice process in England and Wales. It lists the organisations that must provide those services to the victim and sets a minimum standard for these services.
The full Code can be accessed via the relevant link in the Related Information section. However please find a summary of the Code below:
Right 1 - To be able to understand and to be understood
You have the Right to be given information in a way that is easy to understand and to be provided with help to be understood, including, where necessary, access to interpretation and translation services.
Right 2 - To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay
You have the Right to have details of the crime recorded by the police as soon as possible after the incident. If you are required to provide a witness statement or be interviewed, you have the Right to be provided with additional support to assist you through this process.
Right 3 - To be provided with information when reporting the crime
You have the Right to receive written confirmation when reporting a crime, to be provided with information about the criminal justice process and to be told about programmes or services for victims. This might include services where you can meet with the suspect or offender, which is known as Restorative Justice.
Right 4 - To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs
You have the Right to be referred to services that support victims, which includes the Right to contact them directly, and to have your needs assessed so services and support can be tailored to meet your needs. If eligible, you have the Right to
be offered a referral to specialist support services and to be told about additional support available at court, for example special measures.
Right 5 - To be provided with information about compensation
Where eligible, you have the Right to be told about how to claim compensation for any loss, damage or injury caused as a result of crime.
Right 6 - To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution
You have the Right to be provided with updates on your case and to be told when important decisions are taken. You also have the Right, at certain stages of the justice process, to ask for decisions to be looked at again by the relevant service provider.
Right 7 - To make a Victim Personal Statement
You have the Right to make a Victim Personal Statement, which tells the court how the crime has affected you and is considered when sentencing the offender. You will be given information about the process.
Right 8 - To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness
If your case goes to court, you have the Right to be told the time, date and location of any hearing and the outcome of those hearings in a timely way. If you are required to give evidence, you have the Right to be offered appropriate help before the trial and, where possible, if the court allows, to meet with the prosecutor before giving evidence.
Right 9 - To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals
You have the Right to be told the outcome of the case and, if the defendant is convicted, to be given an explanation of the sentence. If the offender appeals against their conviction or sentence, you have the Right to be told about the
appeal and its outcome.
Right 10 - To be paid expenses and have property returned
If you are required to attend court and give evidence, you have the Right to claim certain expenses. If any of your property was taken as evidence, you have the Right to get it back as soon as possible.
Right 11 - To be given information about the offender following a conviction
Where eligible, you have the Right to be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme, which will provide you with information about the offender and their progress in prison, and if/when they become eligible for consideration of parole or release. Where applicable, you also have the Right to make a new Victim Personal Statement, in which you can say how the crime continues to affect you.
Right 12 - To make a complaint about your Rights not being met
If you believe that you have not received your Rights, you have the Right to make a complaint to the relevant service provider. If you remain unhappy, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
The police's responsibilities to a victim of crime are as follows -
A victim is classed as a person who is -
- a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by a criminal offence;
- a close relative (or a nominated family spokesperson) of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence;
- 'businesses' are not included in this definition (see Note 2 on Page 3 of the Code for more information on this).
As a victim of crime you are entitled to receive the following from the police -
- if the crime is finalised at source (not investigated) then the victim must be notified of this within 5 working days (1 working day under Enhanced Rights – see page 10 of the Code);
- must supply the victim with written information on what to expect from the criminal justice system as soon as possible, and not later than 5 working days after reporting the crime;
- must inform Victim Support services of the victims details within 2 working days of the crime report (unless the victim asks them not to do so);
- If the case goes to court the police must inform victims of the date, time and location of the first court hearing;
- inform victims within 5 working days of receipt from the court, if an arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect who failed to attend court and the outcome of a hearing if the suspect is re-arrested;
You are entitled to be informed by the police of the following information and to have the reasons explained to you within 5 working days of a suspect being:
• being issued an out of court disposal
• interviewed under caution;
• released without charge;
• released on police bail, or if police bail conditions are changed or cancelled.
Informing the victim can include by letter, telephone, personal visit, fax, text message or email.
Vulnerable victims are provided with an enhanced service. You may be classed as vulnerable if -
- you are under 18 years of age at the time of the offence or
- the quality of your evidence is likely to be affected because:
(i) you suffer from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983;
(ii) you otherwise have a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or
(iii) you have a physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder
Vulnerable victims must be informed within 1 working day if a suspect has been arrested or a warrant has been issued due to the suspects failure to attend at court.