Support for victims and witnesses of crime
If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of crime, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed. But help and support is available to get you back on your feet and guide you through the investigation process.
Here, you'll find the guidelines we follow to make sure we’re offering the best possible care, and where you can turn for further support.
What to expect as a victim or witness
Criminal justice agencies in England and Wales abide by the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. This is a set of guidelines designed to make sure victims of crime are given the best advice and support from the moment they report a crime to the sentencing of an offender.
Victims can expect to be:
- treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner without discrimination of any kind
- given appropriate support to cope and recover
- protected from being victimised again
- shown how to access information and support in future
A victim’s details remain confidential. Their address and other personal information is never made available to suspects or offenders.
Witnesses of crime are protected in a similar way due to a set of standards called the Witness Charter.
To find out more about how witnesses and victims of crime will be treated and other services available to them, visit the UK government’s website.
Going to court
As a witness or victim of a crime, you may be asked to give evidence in court.
We can make sure you get plenty of help and advice in the run-up to and on the day itself.
This person will be your single point of contact throughout. They'll:
- answer any questions you might have
- give you all the information you need
- make sure you’re fully prepared
They can arrange a court visit before the day so you can familiarise yourself with the layout of the courtroom.
On the day, they may be able to make sure you arrive through a different entrance to the offender and wait in a separate area depending on the circumstances of the case.
If you’re feeling vulnerable or intimidated by the offender, or if a child or young person is giving evidence, the court may be able to provide a range of special measures, such as:
- giving evidence from behind a screen or via a video link from another room
- trained professionals, called intermediaries, who are there to help explain things
- for some locations it might be possible to be able to wait in a different area or come into court via a different door to avoid seeing the offender or people attending court on their behalf
For those attending court in Scotland, the above services are provided by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. For more information visit the Scottish Government's website or the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
Local and national support
Victim Support is a national charity dedicated to helping anyone affected by crime to cope with and recover from their experience. It offers services not only to victims and witnesses, but also to their friends and family.
If it doesn't have an office in your area, it can point you to local help.
This checklist will help our staff confirm that they've provided you with all of the information you need as a victim of crime. You should have been:
- given practical help
- offered advice
- told what's going to happen next and why
- given written details of the name and contact details of the officer attending you
- given a crime/occurrence/incident reference number
- told what further contact you should expect – when, how and who by
- given the chance to put in place a ‘victim contact agreement’
- asked if you have any further questions/concerns
- advised about your right to access support as a victim of crime
- told what a victim personal statement is and had the opportunity to make one
Please also make a note of any information you may have remembered or questions you wish to ask next time we contact you.
Further support and advice
Victim First provides information and support for anyone affected by crime. You can call 0800 953 95 95 whether the crime is recent or in the past, and whether or not you want to report it.
The phone lines are open Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 6pm (to 8pm on Wednesday).
Calls are confidential.
Citizens Advice Witness Service
Citizens Advice – advice on going to court as a witness.
HM Courts & Tribunal Service
HM Courts & Tribunal Service – details of the help available if you can't travel to court easily.