Victims of Crime

Information and advice

We are committed to giving the best possible service to ensure you receive the right support and are kept fully informed about your case throughout the criminal justice process.

You may find it helpful to make your own notes on this page.

Crime reference number:

Date/time/location of offence:

Type of offence and harm caused:

Investigator in charge of your case:

Contact details:

Victim Care Officer:

Contact details:

Witness Care Officer:

Contact details:

This leaflet is available in different formats which can be found at:

www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/victim-witnesses/victims/

What happens now?

Thank you for reporting your crime to us - you have taken the first important step in bringing the offenders to justice.

We know this is a distressing time. The decision to contact the police can be daunting and you may have concerns about what is going to happen next.

This booklet provides information that will be helpful to you and explains what you can expect from the police and other criminal justice agencies.

When you report a crime to us we will let you know what happens next. If your case cannot be investigated further we will explain the reasons why.

If your case is to be investigated further we will keep you informed at important stages of the investigation, for example when a suspect is identified or brought to court.

You may be called to give evidence and we will ensure that you know what to expect in court, and you receive the support and advice you need.

Your rights

Victims of crime, both individuals and businesses, are entitled to a level of service and support from the police and other criminal justice agencies as detailed in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime

For example, as a victim of crime you can expect:

Some victims of crime (e.g. children, victims of the most serious crimes or close relatives of someone who has died as a result of crime) are entitled to extra support. This is explained in the victims’ code.

Talking about your 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.

You may be asked to make a witness statement. This is when you say what happened, when the crime took place and where it occurred.

If you do not understand or speak English you are entitled to ask for an interpretation into a language you understand when being interviewed by the police.

We will ask you about the support you require and complete 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.

Victim Personal Statement (VPS)

The police will also ask you if you would like to make a Victim Personal Statement which allows you to explain in your own words how a crime has affected you.

If you choose not to make a statement at this time you can still make one later, as long as it is before the offender is sentenced in court. Please be aware that some cases come to court very quickly.

In your statement you cannot say what sentence or punishment you think the offender should receive as this will be for the court to decide.

If your case reaches court your statement will be shown to the defence and you may be questioned on it.

You will be asked if you would like your statement to be read out or played in court if the suspect is found guilty. The decision to allow you to read out your statement personally is made at the discretion of the court. If your case moves quickly it may not be possible, although it will still be taken into consideration by the judge.

If your statement is discussed in court the details could be reported in the media.

All businesses or enterprises (such as charities) who are victims of crime are entitled to make a Business Impact Statement explaining how the crime has affected the business. This is similar to a Victim Personal Statement.

Supporting you

The police will help identify the support you need through an initial needs assessment. If you require support you will be referred to the Victim Care Unit who will contact 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. If you need support a victim care officer will contact you to discuss your individual needs and circumstances in more detail.

The victim care officer will take the time to explain the type of services that are available from a wide range of voluntary and community sector organisations who work locally with victims of crime. 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.

Protection against intimidation

It is a criminal offence to intimidate anyone helping the police in an investigation. Contact the police immediately if you are harassed or threatened during an investigation or trial.

Victims and witnesses are also protected against witness intimidation for up to a year after the conclusion of a trial. If the offender is remanded in custody, released on bail or convicted the court can issue a restraining order.

You must tell us if:

Compensation

The court may award you compensation if you have been a victim of a violent crime and you may also be eligible for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

You can apply for compensation within two years of the date of the crime. You should not wait until the end of a civil or criminal trial before applying for criminal injuries compensation.

You can apply online at www.cica.gov.uk or call 0300 003 3601.

You can also apply for financial help if you have to take time off low-paid work because you have been the victim of a violent crime.

If you need further help when applying for compensation please speak to the Victim Care Unit.

Reducing the risk

For information on ways in which you can reduce the chance of becoming a victim of crime, please visit the crime prevention pages at: www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/crime-prevention/

The next steps

Following police enquiries a decision will be made as to what happens next in relation to your crime and the investigator in charge of your case will explain this to you.

If your case is not going to progress to court (even if a suspect has been identified and interviewed) then the officer will explain the reasons for this. If you are unhappy with the explanation given, in certain circumstances you can ask for this to be reviewed.

There are a number of ways in which police can take action against an offender if a case does not go to court. They include:

These options allow police to deal proportionately with certain types of crime when it is not deemed appropriate for the offender to be punished through the court system.

Such punishments are not suitable for more serious cases or where the person does not admit responsibility for the offence. Equally, these options would not be used for those who repeatedly commit crime.

If such an approach is thought suitable you will be asked for your views and these will be taken into account before any decision is made.

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with offenders and to explain the real impact of crime - it empowers victims by giving them a voice. It also holds offenders to account for what they have done and helps them to take responsibility and make amends.

You will be asked if you are interested in Restorative Justice for your case. This is completely voluntary and does not affect the criminal justice process. It has been shown that such an approach helps victims cope and recover from the impact of crime, and reduces the likelihood of reoffending.

Restorative Justice is designed to work alongside the criminal justice system. It can be used at any point in the process and at a time that feels right for you. If you decide to take part in Restorative Justice you will be given the support you need and may be referred to a specialist in your local area.

Going to court

The case will go to court if someone is arrested and charged by the police. You will be assigned a witness care officer who will take care of you through to the end of the case.

You can ask them any questions and they will keep you up-to-date about what is happening with your case, including details of court hearings and whether the suspect has been released on bail or is being held in custody.

You may be asked to be a witness in court to speak about what has happened. We want you to be able to give your best evidence and it’s natural to feel worried or nervous.

If you have been called to court, the Witness Service, run by the Citizens Advice Bureau, can help you. They can provide or arrange a pre-trial visit to the court, explain what to expect and support you at any court appearance.

At court you can ask if you are able to wait in an area away from the suspect, their friends and family.

If you do not understand or speak English you can ask for an interpretation into a language you understand to help you give evidence during criminal proceedings.

Special measures

Vulnerable or intimidated victims and witnesses can be considered for special measures at court which may include:

The court will make the final decision about whether you are eligible for special measures during the trial and your witness care officer will discuss this with you.

What happens after the court case?

The Witness Care Unit will notify you of the result of any court case. If the suspect is found guilty you will be told what the sentence means.

When someone is sent to prison they pass into the care of the Prison Service.

Sometimes the suspect will appeal against the sentence or the conviction. This is when they ask for the judge’s decision to be changed or for the sentence to be reduced. If the offender is allowed to appeal you will be told where and when the appeal hearing will take place.

Improving our service

The victims’ code sets out a standard of service to be provided to victims by criminal justice organisations.

You are entitled to be treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner by all the criminal justice agencies. You have the right to complain if the services you are entitled to are not provided.

Complaints should be dealt with quickly and properly by the relevant organisation. You should receive either an acknowledgement or a full response within ten working days of your complaint being received by the organisation.

Contact the Victim Care Unit for advice if you are unhappy with the service you have received or you are unsure where to send your complaint. For further information about police complaints please visit: www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/contact/how-to-make-a-complaint/

We want to improve our service to victims and we would welcome your feedback. We would be grateful if you would spend a few minutes completing our survey which can be found at:

www.victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk

Further information

You can read more about the Victim Care Unit and the services provided for victims at:

www.victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk

www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/victim-witnesses/victims/

Contact the police

999 Emergency

Where life is threatened, people are injured, offenders are nearby or if immediate action is required

101 Non-emergency

If a crime has already happened or to give information about a crime

Calls to 101 only cost 15p from a landline or mobile phone, no matter how long the call lasts. Interpreters are available if required.

101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk

www.devon-cornwall.police.uk

Deaf/hard of hearing or speech impaired

999 Emergency - SMS/text number. Register at www.emergencysms.org.uk

18000 Emergency - Minicom/textphone number

67101 Non-emergency - SMS/text number

18001 101 Non-emergency - Minicom/textphone number

Victim Care Unit

victimservices@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk

www.victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk

National Victims’ Information Service

www.victimsinformationservice.org.uk

Police station opening hours

www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/contact/police-enquiry-offices/

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