If you have been a victim of crime, you are entitled to certain information and support from criminal justice organisations such as the police and the courts.
The police will automatically pass on your details to victim services organisations that can provide you with practical and emotional support, unless you ask them not to. If you are the victim of a sexual offence or of domestic violence, or the relative of somebody who has been killed as a result of crime, the police will ask you if you are happy for your details to be passed on and will only do this if you have agreed. If your details are passed on, someone from the victim services organisation will get in touch with you to explain the help available to assist your recovery.
The police should keep you informed as progress is made in the investigation and will let you know if any arrests are made and if suspects are charged. You can agree with the police how often you would like to hear from them about the investigation.
If you are a victim of crime and are appearing in court as a witness, you are entitled to:
- Where circumstances permit, meet the prosecutor who is presenting the case in court to ask about what to expect and how long you might have to wait before giving evidence.
- Ask court staff if you can wait in an area away from the accused, their family and friends.
- Have Special Measures set up for you, as ordered by the court.
- Be introduced to someone at the court who can answer your questions about what is happening in the case during the trial.
If you, or others close to you, are harassed or threatened in any way during an investigation or a trial, you should contact the police immediately. If the accused is bailed, the court may impose a condition preventing the accused from making any contact with a named person or persons. You could also apply to court to get an injunction against the accused if you think it’s likely that he or she will harass you. Regardless of whether the accused is convicted or acquitted, the criminal court can issue a restraining order. In addition, protection for victims and witnesses against witness intimidation extends for up to a year after the end of a trial.
Where to get support?
Victim Support is the independent national charity that helps victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else who is affected. Their services are free and available to everyone. Victim Support is not part of the police, the courts or any other criminal justice agency.
Their trained volunteers offer:
- A person to talk to in confidence
- Information on police and court procedures
- Help in dealing with other organisations
- Information about compensation and insurance
- Information on other sources of help