Your rights

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You have rights which means that you can expect certain things to happen when you report a crime. These rights are yours by law and can be found in the Code of Practice for Victims. To view the code and to find information for young people, and easy reads materials visit the GOV.UK website.

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  • You have the right to contact the police and be kept informed about the investigation.
  • You must be given a crime reference number and details about how you can contact the police officer who is dealing with your case. This should be written down for you on a 'Victim of Crime' leaflet.
  • You have the right to ask the police for updates about the investigation. You’ll need to tell the police your crime reference number when you ask for an update.

While the police are investigating the crime, they will give you an update on the case at relevant stages until it is closed. They will discuss with you how often you would like to receive updates and your preferred method of contact. You can update your preferences at any time. The police will let you know within 5 days if someone is:

  • arrested
  • charged (a charge is the specific law that that the police and CPS believe has been broken by the offender)
  • set free
  • released on bail – you can find out more about bail on the UK website.
  • given a caution, reprimand, final warning, or penalty notice – find out more on the UK website.

The police will tell you if they cannot investigate the crime within 5 days of you reporting it and the will also tell you why that is.

You may be able to get information quicker and you might have other rights if you:

  • Have experienced a serious crime
  • have been persistently targeted
  • are considered vulnerable or intimidated

When the police have finished investigating the crime, they can pass the information to the CPS who then decide if there is enough evidence to take the case to court.

If the CPS decide that there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute an offender at court, or if they decide to change the ‘charge’ (a charge is the specific law that that the police and CPS believe has been broken by the offender), they will usually tell you within 5 days.

You will be told how to request a review of the decision (if the charge is dropped or no evidence is presented) and you’ll usually have 7 days to make the request. Information about how to request a review can be found on the Crown Prosecution Service website.

You can tell the police how the crime has affected you through a special statement called a ‘victim personal statement’. It can be used later when the court is deciding on a punishment. You can find out more about Victim Personal Statements on the GOV.UK website.

The police might give some information about the crime to the media to help with the investigation. They’ll normally ask your permission before they do this.

If you have experienced sexual assault or rape, it’s against the law for anyone to publish your name, photo or anything else that could identify you.

Under the new Victims' Code, support for those directly affected by crime includes:

  • Better communication with you about certain parts of the police investigation so that you are informed at the point of arrest, charge or bail of the offender
  • You should have a needs assessment done if you are entitled to an enhanced service (this is for people under 18, the vulnerable, intimidated and those who have experienced serious crime).
  • 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 years old or an adult who is vulnerable or intimidated
  • Being able to apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
  • Receiving information about 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
  • You can expect clear guidance about how you can make a complaint

To find a copy of the Code of Practice for Victims, to read information for young people, and to find easy reads materials visit the GOV.UK website.

Going to court can be hard. You can find out what to expect and what support may be available for you, on the Devon and Cornwall Police website and the GOV.UK website.

Free support for those who have experienced crime directly and witnesses
The Witness Service gives free support and information. The Witness Service can give you:

  • Someone to talk to confidentially about how you're feeling before a trial
  • Information about what to expect in court including a chance to see the court beforehand and learn about the court works
  • A quiet place to wait before you are called to give evidence
  • Someone to go with you into the courtroom if you want, to help you feel more at-ease
  • Practical help (for example with claiming your expenses)
  • Easier access to people, such as court staff, who can answer questions you might have
  • A chance to talk over the case when it has ended and to get more help or information

Restorative Justice can give someone who has experienced crime the chance to meet or communicate with the person who has harmed them. It is a way of giving a person who has been affected by a crime a voice, and it can also hold an offender to account for what they have done.

If someone has experienced a crime they can choose whether or not they want to take part in Restorative Justice. It is a choice.

Restorative Justice can help a person to cope and recover from a crime. It can also reduce the chance of an offender committing crimes again. Restorative Justice is available for all crimes and at any stage of the criminal justice process.

  1. Restorative Justice: A guide for victims of crime

    PDF Document Added: 23 November 2020


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To get more information about Restorative Justice you can contact the Police Restorative Justice Coordination Manager on 01392 475900 or 07595 011091 or email.

If you are already in contact with the Victim Care Unit, you can request further information about Restorative Justice. You can phone the Victim Care Unit on 01392 475900.

If you have not reported a crime but want to refer yourself to a Restorative Justice service you can contact Shekinah on telephone 01803 222033 or email.

A Victim Personal Statement is a document that tells others (like the courts) about a crime from the point of view of the person who has been affected by the crime. A Victim Personal Statement gives someone a chance to record how a crime has affected them and how it has made them feel about themselves, other people and sometimes places. It can include information about how it’s made a person feel physically, what it might have done to their money and finances, and how it might have changed how they feel about doing things.  

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The police must offer certain people the chance to make a Victim Personal Statement including:

  • Any person who has experienced a crime and who is filling out a ‘witness statement’
  • Someone who has experienced the most serious crimes
  • Someone who keep getting targeted again and again
  • Vulnerable people
  • People who are being intimidated / made to feel scared
  • A parent or carer of a vulnerable adult, or a young person who has experienced crime

You can write a Victim Personal Statement at the same time that you are asked to give a witness statement. If you do not want to do one then, you can still do one later before a trial or sentencing. You can also get support to help you write a Victim Personal Statement.

You can find out more about making a Victim Personal Statement on the Victim Support website and on the GOV.UK website.

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