Victim Support – Your Journey

Victims of Crime

Reporting a Crime

You can report a crime to the police by visiting a police station, by telephone call or online. If you visit your local police services website online, the police should give you information about what to expect from the criminal justice system after reporting the crime.

 You may be asked by the police to make a witness statement saying what happened during the crime. This will give details such as when the crime took place, and where and what you saw. Additionally, they may ask you to make a Victim Personal Statement (VPS) if you want to, explaining how the crime has affected you.

The police will ask you whether you would like all or part of your VPS to be read out or played (if recorded) in court if the case goes to trial and the suspect is found guilty. The court will make the final decision on whether the VPS is read out.  

It’s okay to feel unsure or worry about what will happen if you make a report to the police. You might think that the police won’t care. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with the police in the past or heard bad reports. Or perhaps you’re worried that if you talk to the police, it will only make things worse, the Staffordshire Victim Gateway can support through this process; we can support you to make a report. 

To find out further information, click on the link

Police Investigation

   

Police Investigation

An investigation conducted by police officers with a view to it being determined whether a person should be charged with an offence, or whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it.

Investigations may be carried out in relation to:

  • crimes that have been committed
  • identifying whether a crime has actually been committed, with a view to commencing criminal proceedings
  • crimes that the police believe may be committed, for example, when premises or individuals are kept under observation for a period of time, with a view to the possible institution of criminal proceedings.
  • Report to the police, police investigation, and decision to charge.

There is no set time limit to an investigation. It may take days, weeks, months or longer.

Charging decisions: Police decision:

Police can make charging decisions on all summary offences irrespective of plea and any either way offences anticipated as a guilty plea and suitable for sentence in a magistrates’ court, except for:

 What cases you can ask to be reviewed by the police:

Victims’ Right to Review Scheme (VRR) * you can ask for this decision to be reviewed if you are unhappy with it. This would be done through the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme.

 You have the right to request a review if the police decide either:

  • not to bring proceedings in cases where police have authority to charge
  • that the case doesn’t meet the test for referring the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision

VRR also doesn’t apply to the following cases where:

  • no suspect has been identified and interviewed
  • only some of the charges are brought against some of the suspects
  • a positive decision (charge or out of court disposal) has been made about someone else in connection with the incident
  • the suspect is charged with a different crime from the one that was recorded and complained about by the victim; for example, the suspect is charged with common assault but an offence of actual bodily harm was recorded
  • it’s disposed of out of court
  • the victim retracts their complaint, or refuses to cooperate with the investigation, so police decide not to charge or refer the case to the CPS

Sometimes an investigation into an offence is ongoing, so even though police have made a decision on whether or not to charge someone, a VRR consideration may be deferred until the investigation is complete. For further info go to https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/acr/vrr/victims-right-review-scheme/

Court

   

Attending Court

Once a crime has been reported to the police, the investigation may lead to a suspect being charged for the crime. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will normally make the decision on whether there is enough evidence to bring the case to court, although in some cases the police will decide. If your case does not go to court, you should be told the reason for this decision by either the police or CPS.

If your case does go to court, you may be a witness in the trial. If the suspect pleads not guilty, you will be allocated a Witness Care Officer or other point of contact who will keep you up to date about what’s happening in the trial and answer any questions you have.

You will usually hear from the Witness Care Officer once the suspect has been charged, and they will continue to support you until the case is over. They will let you know court dates and locations and whether the suspect has been released on bail or is being held in custody until the trial begins.

They may also be able to arrange a visit to the court before the day if you would like, through the Witness Service, this is called a Pre Trial Visit *PTV. The SVGRJ service can also support with information and a referral to the Witness Service if required. Your point of contact, will consider what, if any, support you might need to attend court. This includes whether you could benefit from any Special Measures. Special Measures are a series of options that the court has to help give your best evidence.  will consider what, if any, support you might need to attend court. This includes whether you could benefit from any Special Measures. Special Measures are a series of options that the court has to help give your best evidence. For more information on Special Measure; Click on this link 

 You may want to re-look at or complete if you have not already completed a Victim Personal Statement (VPS) at this stage. VPS if read out in court, will be done after the verdict is given but before the court decides on the sentence. You can ask to read out the VPS yourself or ask somebody else to read it out for you. If you do not want your VPS to be read out, the court will still consider your VPS before deciding on the sentence.

Special Measures

Vulnerable or intimidated victims and witnesses can ask for Special Measures to be used during the trial to help them

give their best evidence in court. These measures include:

  • Having screens around the witness box or giving evidence by live video-link so you do not have to face the suspect or their family;
  • Having the court case held in private – with no press or public allowed;
  • Having someone (an intermediary), to help you to understand questions when being interviewed. 
  • You can ask your VCC or other point of contact for more information. The court will make the final decision on whether you can use Special Measures during the trial, but will take your views into account.
Sentencing

Sentencing

There are four types of sentence available to the courts, depending upon the seriousness of the crime:

  • Discharge – this is when the court decides that given the character of the offender and the nature of the crime, punishment would not be appropriate. There are two types of discharge:
  • Absolute discharge – no further action is taken, since either the offence was very minor, or the court considers that the experience has been enough of a deterrent. The offender will receive a criminal record.
  • Conditional discharge – the offender is released and the offence registered on their criminal record. No further action is taken unless they commit a further offence within a time decided by the court (no more than three years) / Fines – the court can order that the offender pays a fine
  • Community sentences – these combine punishment with activities designed to change offenders’ behaviour and to make amends – sometimes directly to the victim of the crime.

Imprisonment – for the most serious offences the court may impose a prison sentence. The length of sentence is limited by the maximum penalty for that crime. The sentence imposed by the court represents the maximum amount of time that the offender will remain in custody.

If the person who committed the crime against you is caught, prosecuted and convicted you may be entitled to prepare a Victims Personal Statement (VPS), depending on the crime. The statement can be read to the court to illustrate the impact that this crime has had on you. This may help the court when it is considering the sentence to give the offender. 

 You can read more about sentencing on the Sentencing Council’s website or watch the videos below.

Restorative Justice

Victim Contact Scheme

This is a special service for victims of sexual and/or violent crimes where the offender is sentenced to 12 months or more in prison. If you take part in the scheme, you will be given a Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) who will keep you up to date about what happens to the offender after they are found guilty.

You will also have the chance to give your views on any conditions you think should apply to the offender when they are released back into the community. This could include the offender being banned from visiting areas near where you live.

7 in 10 people who use our Victim Gateway service are happy with the outcome.

7 in 10
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