Victims of Crime the help and advice that s available

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1 Details about Victim Support Your local Victim Support Scheme is: Victims of Crime the help and advice that s available You can also contact the Victim Supportline on: Or, if you prefer, you can write to the Victim Supportline at: PO Box 11431, London SW9 6ZH Further information about the help available to you as a victim of crime can also be found at Published by Home Office Communication Directorate. May CC1. The police will pass information about you to Victim Support so that they can offer you help and support, unless you ask the police not to.

2 This leaflet explains what will happen now you have reported a crime to the police. It tells you: How the crime will be investigated and what will happen if you have to go to court; How you may be able to get compensation if you have been injured or if your property has been stolen or damaged; How the police can help you; What other help and advice is available. The police When you report a crime to the police, they will decide what to do next. For example, they may begin an investigation to try to solve the crime. Wherever possible you should: Give them as much information as you can about the offence. Describe what happened and what you saw and heard; Tell them if you are worried about your own or your family s safety. For example, if you are worried about going to court if a suspect is arrested as a result of your evidence, the police will let the Crown Prosecution Service know; Tell them if the crime was made worse by any racist or homophobic abuse or hatred directed at you. The police will give you contact details so that, if you need to contact them again after making

3 your statement, you can talk to someone who is already familiar with your situation. The contact details are: Police Force Police Station Main telephone number of the police station Name of the officer dealing with your case Rank and number of the officer dealing with your case Crime Reference Number Telephone number of the Crime Desk (if there is one) Keep these details handy. You should contact the police again if, for example, you remember more details of the incident; you find that there was more loss or damage than you first thought; or if you were hurt during the crime and the injuries now seem more serious than they did at the time. You should also tell the police if you change your address or telephone number, so that they can let you know if someone has been arrested, charged or cautioned in connection with the offence. What happens next? The police will collect evidence so they can try to catch the criminal. Sometimes, although they have a suspect, the police may not have enough evidence to charge the person. Sometimes if the suspect is young or mentally disordered and the offence is not

4 too serious, the police may decide to caution him or her instead. In some cases, the suspect may already be facing more serious charges for other crimes and he or she may be prosecuted for those crimes instead. If the police decide to charge a suspect, the case is taken over by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS is an independent public authority which is responsible for prosecuting people in England and Wales. The CPS decides whether there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. This means they must be satisfied that it is more likely than not that the suspect will be convicted of the charge. They must then consider whether a prosecution would be in the public interest. This means taking into account other factors, apart from the evidence, when deciding whether or not to prosecute. For example, it may not be necessary to prosecute an elderly person for shoplifting if the item stolen is of very small value. The CPS do not act directly on behalf of individual victims or represent them in criminal proceedings, but they do carefully consider the interests of victims when deciding where the public interest lies. The media and your right to privacy The media can play an important role in tackling crime. When investigating a crime, the police may decide to release some details of the crime to the media (press, TV, radio) as a way of collecting more evidence, such as eye-witness accounts. The police should not normally release personal details about you or your family unless you have given them permission. If you are concerned about your privacy, you should tell the police officer dealing with your case.

5 Going to court The majority of cases that reach court are dealt with by magistrates courts. The most serious cases have to be sent to the Crown Court. If your case goes to court and you are needed as a witness: You will be sent a letter confirming which court you should attend to give your evidence and the date and time; You will also be sent a copy of the leaflet Witness in Court, which will explain what is likely to happen; You will be offered support from the Witness Service; You should tell the police about any days when you know it would be difficult for you to go to court. While the courts will try to avoid these dates, the case may sometimes have to go ahead anyway; If you are called to give evidence and are unable to give it in English, you should let the police or the CPS know so an interpreter can be brought in. If you have given a witness statement but the CPS decides not to call you as a witness, the police will try to let you know about hearing dates. There could be several such dates if, for example, cases are delayed or postponed. They will also try to let you know the result of the case. Compensation If you have been injured or your property has been stolen or damaged as a result of a crime, you may be entitled to compensation. If you think you may qualify for compensation, you should keep details of what happened, for example, write down any extra expenses that you have had as a result of the crime

6 (e.g. medical expenses or the cost of repairing or replacing your property); any loss of earnings you have suffered; or any income you have received as a result of the offence (e.g. Social Security benefits). You should also keep any receipts, estimates or other documents about any of these things. Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme If you have been injured in a violent crime, you can apply for a payment under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. It does not matter whether the offender has been caught or charged for you to receive a payment. For more information on the scheme and the rules that define whether any claim will be successful, ask for the leaflet Victims of Crimes of Violence, a Guide to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. You can get this from the police, from Victim Support Schemes, from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau, or from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, Tay House, 300 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4JR (Telephone: ). Compensation from the offender If someone is convicted, the criminal court may order an offender to pay you compensation for any injury, loss or damage you have suffered because of the offence. Paying compensation may be part of the sentence when an offender is convicted. Unlike a claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme you cannot make a personal claim for compensation against an offender yourself. It is therefore important that you tell the police officer in your case

7 if you would like to receive compensation. They will give you a form on which you should give accurate details of the injury, loss or damage, backed up by documentary evidence (e.g. receipts, invoices, etc) wherever possible. The police will then pass this information to the CPS who will make sure that the court knows about it. You may be able to receive compensation for personal injury; losses because of theft of, or damage to, property; losses because of fraud; loss of earnings while off work; medical expenses; travelling expenses; pain and suffering; and loss, damage or injury caused to, or by, a stolen vehicle. In some cases, surviving dependants of a victim who died during, or as a direct result of, a crime may be entitled to compensation (for example, through the courts or from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme). However, if the death was in a road traffic incident, you will not be able to claim. The Role of the Court The court has to consider compensation in every appropriate case and decide whether to order an offender to pay compensation and, if so, how much. The court must take into consideration the offender s circumstances and ability to pay. So if the court does decide to make an order, it may not be for the full amount of your loss. If the court decides the offender must pay compensation to you, the offender pays money to the court, and court officials pass it on to you. If the offender cannot pay the full amount of the order straight away, the court will allow them time to pay in full or to pay by instalments. It is the court s duty to make sure that the offender pays the compensation. If you have any questions about the compensation order or the way it will be paid to you, you should

8 contact the clerk of the court. You should not contact the offender. Civil proceedings Whether or not the offender is convicted in the criminal courts, you can sue him or her for damages in a civil court. You can find out more about this by contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau or asking a solicitor. Motor Insurers Bureau If you suffer injury, loss or damage to property as a result of a road traffic incident involving a motor vehicle, you will normally be eligible for a payment made by the vehicle owner s insurance company. If the vehicle is uninsured, you may be able to claim compensation for personal injury or damage to property from the Motor Insurers Bureau. If the police have not traced the offender, only personal injury compensation may be available. To claim, or to find out more, contact the Motor Insurers Bureau, 152 Silbury Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 1NG (Telephone: ) For more advice, the leaflet Victims of Uninsured and Untraced Drivers is available from the Department for Transport, Road Safety Division, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DR. If you should succeed in making two successful claims linked to the same incident, for example through a court order to pay compensation and through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme or the Motor Insurers Bureau, the award will be reduced to avoid double payment.

9 Checklist for action If you report a crime to the police you can expect: the police to investigate the crime; to be contacted by Victim Support unless you have asked the police not to pass on your details; to be told by the police if someone is charged with, or cautioned for, the offence; to be told by the police or the CPS if the charge is later changed or dropped; to be told if you will be needed as a witness and, if so, when and where. If you are needed, to be given the Witness in Court leaflet and offered support by the Witness Service; if the case goes to court, consideration to be given to making a compensation order in your favour; to be told, if you ask to be, the result of the court case, including (in the more serious cases) the results of any appeals against conviction or sentencing that follow on from the original case; to be given advice about applying for compensation for personal injury from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority; and to be given crime prevention advice by the police if you ask for it. To help make this possible you should: report the crime to the police as soon as you can; give the police as much detail as you can of any injury or loss you suffered; tell the police if you want to claim compensation;

10 tell the police if you fear for your, or your family s safety; tell the police if you do not want them to pass on any of your details to the media; tell the police if you do not want your details to be passed to Victim Support; contact Victim Support direct, if you want to; and tell the police if you change your contact details while the case remains unresolved. Protecting yourself against crime Unfortunately some people who have been the victim of crime are more vulnerable, in the short term, to more crime. Whatever the circumstances which led to you becoming a victim of crime, there are practical ways of protecting yourself against crime and making it less likely that you will be at risk in the future. The police can offer free crime prevention advice if you ask them. You may also find helpful information in the Home Office crime prevention guide, Your Practical Guide to Crime Prevention. This includes simple, cost-effective ways to help protect you, your property and your family. Ask for a copy at your local police station. If there is a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in your area, you may want to join it. It can make you feel more secure to know that people are looking out for each other s safety, as well as sharing crime prevention ideas. If there is no Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in your area, you might want to talk to your local crime prevention officer about starting one there may be other people in your area who might be interested.

11 Protection from harassment The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 made it a criminal offence to make another person fear that violence will be used against them. It also made it an offence to make someone afraid, for example, by stalking. Those who commit the more serious criminal offence of making someone fear violence can receive a fine and/or up to five years in prison. Those found guilty of harassment in the form of stalking can receive a fine and/or up to six months imprisonment. If you have suffered harassment or fear of violence and the offender has been caught and convicted, the criminal court can make a restraining order to stop them coming near you to threaten you or make you afraid. The penalty for disobeying the restraining order is up to five years imprisonment. You can also ask a civil court for an injunction to stop someone s threatening behaviour. Although the injunction is not made in a criminal court, breaking the terms of the injunction is a criminal offence. Anyone who still harasses you after an injunction could be imprisoned for up to five years and/or face an unlimited fine. Protection against anti-social behaviour You can ask the police or local authority to apply to the magistrates court for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order against someone who has been causing you alarm, distress, or harassment with their behaviour. You may not have to go to court to explain why their anti-social behaviour is a problem. The court can ask to hear the evidence of

12 a professional witness. That means a police officer or someone from the local authority will investigate the behaviour and give an independent report to the court. If the magistrates agree that there is evidence of anti-social behaviour, the Order lasts at least two years. Anyone who disobeys an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (by still acting in the same way) may face a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. Protection against sex offenders If the behaviour of a known sex offender is causing concern in your community, the police can apply to the magistrates court for a Sex Offender Order. This protects the public by ordering the defendant not to do specific things (e.g. waiting outside a school or in a playground). An offender whose behaviour breaches the conditions of the Order can face a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. The Order lasts for at least five years. Remember If you are not sure about anything in this leaflet, or how to get the help and support that is available to you, ask your local police for advice. Victim Support will also help you whenever they can (see back page for contact details). Help from Victim Support Schemes You may be feeling shocked, sad, distressed, angry, or confused as a result of the crime. These feelings are common. Victim Support volunteers are specially trained to help you through this experience and to provide you with practical help and information.

13 The police will normally tell Victim Support about all cases of burglary, theft, criminal damage, arson, assault (but not domestic violence) and racial harassment. If you do not want the police to pass your name on to Victim Support, tell the officer who is dealing with your case. You can contact the police to let them know what you have decided if you are not sure when you first report the crime. You can also contact Victim Support yourself rather than through the police. The police will not usually contact Victim Support if your car has been stolen or vandalised. If you need help, tell the police officer in your case or you can contact Victim Support directly. If you have suffered a sexual crime or domestic violence, the police will specifically ask if you want to talk to someone from Victim Support when you report the crime. If you have been the female victim of rape or sexual assault or abuse you may alternatively want to seek some support from a local rape crisis group affiliated to the Rape Crisis Federation (Telephone ).

14 2 6 Notes

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