On 1st April 2015, a police based victim care unit and a network of support service providers was established for victims in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The office of the Police and Crime Commissioner undertook a victims' needs assessment (published 2014). To view this document, click here. This assessment included a public survey, the views of organisations working with victims and those working within criminal justice agencies. It found that:

  • Many victims were not accessing support
  • Many victims were finding support by their own efforts. They tended to seek support from organisations that reflected who they were or the type of crime they had suffered.
  • Better communication was needed from the criminal justice agencies to make sure that victims were updated as to the progress of their case.
  • The existing system of provision was expensive and removed from local knowledge at the point of needs assessment
  • Referrals on to specialist organisations were few and that victims with complex needs were not getting the level of support that they required.

In response to these findings, two major new developments have taken place. One is the establishment of a victim care unit within the Devon and Cornwall Police. This unit provides immediate support and referral on to organisations with consent. It acts as a source of immediate support and information for all victims and has a mix of both police and third sector specialists.

The second is the establishment of a network of victim care providers. These providers (identifiable on this website with the accreditation badge of victim care) have gone through a series of evaluations in order that they meet our statutory requirements for working with vulnerable victims.

The network of providers covers a range of the victim care pathways. These pathways are parts of a victims' life that can be negatively affected by crime for example, mental and physical well being. These providers will be the support services that the victim care unit will refer to when a victim gives their consent for further support.

The victim care unit will help victims navigate and make informed choices about the organisation they wish to receive support from. All victims will receive some form of communication so that they are aware of how to access services.

The information and directory of services listed on this website is for all to use. Those who do not wish to report a crime can phone 0300 3030 554 or email devon.cornwall@victimsupport.org.uk

Find out more about this section by clicking the headings below

The new Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (December 2013) goes further than the previous code in outlining what victims are entitled to and what they can expect from the agencies involved in criminal justice, such as the police and the courts.  The ‘Victims Code’ is there to help victims understand the support and information that is available to them at each stage of the process, from telling the police about the crime through to the support that they can access to help them ‘cope and recover’ from the impact of crime. 

Under the new Victims' Code, support for victims of crime includes:

  • Better communication with victims about key stages in the Police investigation so that the victim is informed at the point of arrest, charge or bail of the offender
  • Victims should have a needs assessment undertaken if they are entitled to an enhanced service (Under 18s, the vulnerable, intimidated and victims of serious crime). The use of a needs assessment is not solely be dictated by the crime type they have experienced but also be the personal circumstances and needs of the individual victim.
  • Being informed of what to expect if you need to give evidence in court and be able to discuss what help and support you might need with the Witness Care Unit
  • The ability to apply for special measures in court to help you give your best evidence if you are under 18 or an adult victim who is vulnerable or intimidated
  • Having the ability to apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
  • Receiving information and explanation about the option of Restorative Justice, how it works and what is involved.
  • Being able to join the Victim Contact Scheme which means you'll be told when an offender will be released, if they have been sentenced to a year or more in prison for a violent or sexual offence against you
  • Victims are to be given clear guidance about how they can make a complaint and there is an expectation on all criminal justice agencies that this is handled quickly and thoroughly.

 To find out more about  the code and to access copies of the code, including an audio version, an easy read version, and a version for young people, click here 

CASSPLUS (commonly known as CASS on site) currently operates full time at Plymouth Magistrates Court and part time, three days a week, at Truro and Bodmin Magistrates Courts in Cornwall.Our current function is to provide general support and advice in court settings and to provide supported referrals to external specialist agencies based in local communities.

 CASS is a specialist triaging and problem solving service that works with a range of adults who are coming through the court system. This mainly involves offenders and their families, but also includes Victims, people attending Tribunal hearings, Family cases, Civil cases at County Courts and general drop-in’s from people who walk in from the street (often non-criminal matters). CASS will also extend its support to Crown Court if requested or deemed necessary.

 Our full time General Manager operates across all three sites, covering the strategic, networking and operational support needs of the service. All client files are managed securely by the teams on site; two staff and a team of dedicated volunteers. They understand and work closely with criminal justice partnerships and external agencies, promoting and providing genuine joined up working between all partners in order to achieve positive outcomes for clients. Clients re-engage with CASS even if they are not “at court” because we are easy to access and have no exclusion criteria.

We work to raise awareness of vulnerable clients’ issues and to promote the support required from specialists in the community. Referrals are routinely made to housing/homelessness, drug/alcohol, health/mental health, debt/benefits, education/employment, family matters, criminal justice enquiries; but we experience a wide range of other matters that are raised spontaneously eg immigration, community issues, etc.

To contact CASSPLUS (Community Advice and Support Services); Visit our website; www.cassplus.org Or e-mail/telephone cass.plymouth@cassplus.org 01752 601153 cass.truro@cassplus.org 01872 274104 cass.bodmin@cassplus.org 01208 78003

The Victim Care Services for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is a network of organisations that can help to support victims of crime. These organisations may have specialist areas of knowledge that cover the needs of victims such as mental wellbeing or help with finance and debt.

How do I identify which organisations are part of the victim care network?

All organisations that form part of the network will have the badge below to identify them. This will be displayed on their pages under the 'Find support' section

What does it mean to be part of the network?

The organisations that are part of the network have gone through various checks to make sure that they meet our requirements for working with victims.

Referrals from the victim care unit will only be made with the victims consent and only to these organisations. Victims details will be sent securely from the unit to the appropriate organisation via a system for secure referrals called MY VCU. Other organisations are listed on the directory and staff from the victim care unit might signpost victims to these services but no formal referrals will be made.

Why are these organisations part of the network?

This network is represented by over 48 organisations that cover the victim care pathways. This means that we recognise that victims often want help with particular areas of need, or to speak to an organisation that understands the crime they have experienced. In order help victims cope and recover from the effects of crime, we have established a network of organisations that can support victims across the following categories of need:

  •     Mental and physical health;
  •     Shelter and accommodation;
  •     Family, friends and children;
  •     Education, skills and employment;
  •     Drugs and alcohol;
  •     Finance and benefits;
  •     Outlook and attitudes
  •     Social interaction

The network of organisations includes those that work to support particular groups of people. For example, those that have experienced hate crime due to their sexuality, race or disability, will often seek help from an organisation that reflects their identity

What is the victim care unit?

The victim care unit is a new unit based within Devon and Cornwall Police. It will be fully operational from 1 April 2015. The unit will enable more efficient and effective communication with victims.

The victim care unit comprises:

  • A manager
  • Police staff (victim care workers and victim advocate workers)
  • Mental health practitioner seconded from Devon Partnership Trust
  • The witness care unit is co- located with the victim care unit in order to help victims and witnesses as they move from one stage to another.

The staffing of the unit has been designed to incorporate skills and knowledge of specialist areas . This is to enable those with complex needs to be provide with a targeted service.

What does it do?

Each day the unit will be making contact with victims or be contacted by victims. Victims will be triaged into the unit depending on whether they are entitled to an enhanced service and/or if they have additional needs that have been identified by a needs assessment, conducted by the call centre or the attending police officer.

For those victims that fall into the enhanced service and/ or identifiable needs, they will be contacted by a member of staff within the victim care unit to review what they require. Many of their immediate practical and emotional needs will be met at this point. However, if there is the a need for further support, a referral (only with the consent of the victim) will be undertaken onto the network of victim care service providers. The victim will have prescribed how they wish to be contacted.

A significant number of victims of crime do not identify any needs. These victims will be provided by the attending police officer with details on how to contact the victim care unit and access the directory of services information. They will also receive in their preferred method of communication

 They will also receive in their preferred method of communication (letter, email or text) more detailed information on the services available and how at any stage they can access support.

In simple terms, safeguarding means 'protecting from harm'. The term 'vulnerable' can apply to a range of different groups. It can be used to describe a person or group that is in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect. Under the Victims Code , Victims that are classed as 'the vulnerable, repeatedly targeted or intimidated' are entitled to an enhanced service' . You can find out more details on what this means under the victims code of practice page.

Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility. The protection of those that are exposed to the potential of harm crosses the work of a wide range of agencies from social care of children, young people and vulnerable adults, through to health, the police and voluntary and community organisations.

One of the drivers behind the new victim code of practice was a recognition that those in society who are the most vulnerable were the most exposed to crime and exploitation and the most in need of support from victim care services.  The identification of vulnerable victims might refer to:

  • Age ( young or elderly)
  • Disability - Learning or physical
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender
  • Mental or physical  health issues

In relation to crime it might also refer to those that have been repeatedly victimised or are in a situation that is exposing them to harm because of how they live (for example a drug dependency) or where and with whom they live.

We have worked closely with voluntary and community organisations to establish a network of providers that have experience of working and supporting people who are vulnerable. We have worked closely with the police public protection unit to identify additional resources and organisaitons that can offer advice and support . Click here to access the police safeguarding links

A crime can be defined as 'an act or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law. '

Sometimes people are unaware of what type of crime they have experienced. You can always contact the police to explain what has happened to you. If you have been the victim of a crime or think you have witnessed one, you should report it to the police straight away. Your information could be used to prevent other crimes and help keep other people safe.

In an emergency call 999

If you've been mugged, badly hurt, or attacked in any way, or if you've just seen a serious crime being committed, then you should ring 999 as soon as possible.

Your call should be answered within ten seconds. A trained staff member will ask you to describe what has happened and where you are. They may ask if you need any other emergency services, such as an ambulance.

If the situation is an emergency, a police officer will come to the scene to talk to you. They will ask you to explain what happened, and they can help you decide what to do next.

 In a non emergency call 101

If you want to report a minor crime, such as a stolen mobile phone, you should go to your nearest police station to report it, or call your local police in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by dialling 101.

You should call 101 to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response. For example, if:

  • Your car has been stolen
  • Your property has been damaged
  • You suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood

Or to:

  • Report a minor traffic collision
  • Give the police information about crime in your area
  • Speak to the police about a general enquiry

The thought of being a witness and having to attend court is one that many victims find intimidating and frightening. They do not know what to expect, how they will be treated and what will happen after the trial. However, the role that witnesses play is vital for bringing criminals to justice.

Below is an overview of the process of being a witness.  You can access more detailed information on the following:

The Witness Charter - guidance on how you can be expected to be treated by the Police and Courts . Click here to access a copy.

Going to court as a victim of witness. Click here for details including how to cover expenses

Information for young witnesses. Click here for further information for parents and different age groups of children at each stage of the process.

What happens?

The first stage is that your witness statement will be passed to your local witness care unit. A witness care officer will be in contact with you. They will be your contact until after criminal proceedings end. They will :

  • Keep you updated with the case
  • Make sure you know if you will have to attend Court in person
  • Provide you with the date and time you need to be in Court and check whether you will need extra support.
  • They can work in collaboration with the Witness Service to arrange prior visits to the Court so you can familiarise yourself with the surroundings

What is the Witness Service?

The witness service is a nationally commissioned service. It provides volunteers that can support you prior to the trial, during and afterward the court case has concluded. These volunteers cannot provide any advice or information about the case but they can be a familiar presence in court and someone who will listen.

What happens after the trial ?

It is often during this period that witnesses feel they needed the most support. The Witness Care Unit and Witness Service will make sure that  the victim care unit is to make contact with those that require additional support and that the victim is supported to access additional support if desired.

Which agencies constitute the criminal justice system?

The criminal justice system (CJS) covers England and Wales and is one of the major public services in this country. Across the CJS, agencies such as the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Courts, Prisons and the Probation Service work together to deliver criminal justice.

Locally, 42 local criminal justice boards (LCJBs) co-ordinate activity and share responsibility for delivering criminal justice in their area. These boards bring together the chief officers of the CJS agencies to co-ordinate activity and share responsibility for delivering criminal justice at a local level.

Three departments are jointly responsible for the CJS and its agencies: the Ministry of Justice which oversees the magistrates' courts, the Crown Court, the Appeals Courts, the Legal Services Commission and the National Offender Management Service (including prisons and probation); the Home Office which oversees the Police and the Attorney General's Office which oversees the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office.

The Ministry of Justice manages the justice process from end to end - from the moment a suspect has been charged, through the courts, to prison and probation if necessary. The ministry is responsible for criminal law and sentencing policy, for legal aid, reducing re-offending and for prisons and probation.

The Home Office protects the public from terror, crime and anti-social behaviour. It helps build the security, justice and respect that enable people to prosper in a free and tolerant society. The department is responsible for crime and crime reduction, policing, security and counter-terrorism.

The Attorney General, assisted by the Solicitor General, is the chief legal adviser to the Government. They are responsible for ensuring the rule of law is upheld.

The Attorney General also has certain public interest functions, for example, in taking action to appeal unduly lenient sentences, and bringing proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act.

What is the purpose of the CJS?

The purpose of the CJS is to deliver justice for all, by convicting and punishing the guilty and helping them to stop offending, while protecting the innocent. It is responsible for detecting crime and bringing it to justice; and carrying out the orders of court, such as collecting fines, and supervising community and custodial punishment.

The key goals for the CJS are:

  • To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the CJS in bringing offences to justice;
  • To increase public confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of the CJS;
  • To increase victim satisfaction with the police, and victim and witness satisfaction with the CJS;
  • To consistently collect, analyse and use good quality ethnicity data to identify and address race disproportionality in the CJS;
  • To increase the recovery of criminal assets to ensure that crime does not pay.

The Criminal Justice Strategic Plan of 2008-2011 sets out how the agencies of the CJS in England and Wales will work together to deliver a justice system which:

  •  Is effective in bringing offences to justice, especially serious offences;
  •  Engages the public and inspires confidence;
  •   Puts the needs of victims at its heart;
  •   Has simple and efficient processes;

Performance is measured against five indicators. In addition LCJBs have an indicator measuring enforcement activity:

  •   Indicator 1: Bringing offences to justice;
  •   Indicator 2: Increasing public confidence;
  •   Indicator 3: Victim and witness satisfaction;
  •   Indicator 4: Addressing race disproportionality;
  •   Indicator 5: Asset recovery;
  •   Additional indicator: CJS enforcement programme.

On this page you will find some key words that you might come across on this website and as a victim of crime.


The crime that the accused person is appearing in court about.

Committing a crime

The same as breaking the law.

Court case

An individual trial or action in court.

Court familiarisation visit

A visit to the court before the trial to allow a witness to see what a court looks like and learn more about court procedures. It can be arranged in advance of the trial through the Witness Care Unit or the Witness Service


These two words have basically the same meaning. A crime or an offence is an act, attempted act or omission which is prohibited by the law and for which a punishment may be imposed.

Criminal Court Case

The legal action at court which decides matters involving crime. Also known as criminal proceedings.

Enhanced Service – under the Victims Code of Practice, victims are serious crime, the vulnerable, intimidated and persistently targeted are entitled to an enhanced service including more better and more regular communication


Someone who has committed the offence or alleged to have committed the offence

Remand in custody´╗┐

When a person is kept a police cell or prison before a court appearance.

Restorative Justice

The process whereby a victim and offender meet. The purpose is to heal the harm that has been caused to the victim.

Victim Care Unit

A unit consisting of trained police staff,  victim advocates and a mental health practitioner that support victims and will refer on to the victim care network of support services if appropriate and with consent

Victim Care Network

Provides practical and emotional support for victims of crime

Victims Code of Practice

Defines what victims are entitled to and what they can expect from the criminal justice agencies

Victim Impact Statement

A written statement which allows victims or, in some cases, their relatives to tell the court how the crime affected them.

Victim Needs Assessment

An assessment of the needs of a victim.


A person who has information about something and may have to tell the court about it

Witness Service

People at the court who provide practical and emotional support to witnesses and their families at court.

Talking about your crime

After you have reported a crime, the police will ask you questions about what has happened and record details. You can have someone with you for support such as a relative or family friend. They should be aged over 18 and not connected with the offence.

If you do not understand or speak English you are entitled to ask for an interpretation into a language you understand.

Supporting you

The police will help identify the support you need through a victim needs assessment. This will help us to understand your needs to help you cope with and recover from the impact of the crime

If you require support you will be referred to the Victim Care Unit who will make contact with you.

Victim Care Unit

 The Victim Care Unit is run by the police and provides a personalised service to help victims cope with and recover from the impact of crime. This service is available whether or not your crime is being actively investigated.

The impact of crime will vary but many people benefit from receiving free and confidential support and information. The victim care officer will discuss your individual needs and circumstances with you in more detail and take the time to explain the type of services that are available from the wide range of voluntary and sector organisations who work locally with victims of crime as detailed on this website. These organisations can provide emotional and practical support, counselling, therapy or help you to seek financial compensation.

With your consent the unit will refer you to the most appropriate service.

The services are centred around 9 possible pathways of need:

  • ·         Accommodation & housing
  • ·         Drugs, alcohol & addiction
  • ·         Education, skills and employment
  • ·         Health & Well-being
  • ·         Access to services
  • ·         Perceptions of safety
  • ·         Empowerment & Self-Esteem
  • ·         Family, friends and children
  • ·         Financial / Compensation

As the victim needs assessment is victim-centred it should reflect what you feel you need, although the officer will be able to provide you with guidance as to possible options around the availability of crime-related support.  

 On 1 April Citizens Advice took over responsibility for the Witness Service from Victim Support.

Nearly 300 staff and 2,500 volunteers joined Citizens Advice to continue this vital service offering free support for witnesses in over 300 criminal courts across England and Wales.

Trained volunteers offer emotional support and practical help to witnesses before, during and after the trial. This includes:

  • greeting witnesses
  • providing court room tours (pre trial visit)
  • explaining court procedures
  • giving updates on the progress of the case
  • providing emotional and practical support linked to giving evidence

It is a free, confidential support service offered to anyone called to give evidence for either the prosecution or defence.  This also includes witnesses under the age of 18.

We are also working towards improving the witness experience and our aim is to alleviate:

  • stressful waiting times for witnesses
  • improve witnesses' understanding of the court process and people involved
  • ensure that witnesses feel valued and respected while they undertake the vital role of giving evidence in court

If you have any questions about the Witness Service or would like support in court, please  email Witness service team

Are you looking for help as a victim of crime?

Search our organisation directory

To be directed to the Victim Care Unit

Call: 01392 475900