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Victim & Witnesses

If you’ve been a victim of crime, it’s important that you have practical information about the service you can expect from us. On this page we’ll tell you about your rights as a victim and signpost you to the support that’s available.

What to expect if you’ve been a victim or witness of crime

All UK criminal justice agencies 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 read more about the Code of Practice visit the gov website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime

Help & support

Victims First Northumbria

VFN is the service that people can turn to and will be with victims every step of the way.

It is a service for victims and those indirectly affected by the crime, including parents, siblings, children, partners and close friends.

 It will take self-referrals, referrals from other agencies and referrals from officers, with the service receiving information about victims at the point of reporting a crime. Each victim with identified needs will be contacted by a Victims First Co-ordinator.

The Co-ordinator will plan with the victims whatever support they need to both cope with and recover from a crime.

It is both fully independent and confidential and will provide victims with access to a range of services and organisations regardless of whether they have contacted the police or not.

Victims First Northumbria will work alongside other victims’ service providers but ensure only one person will deal with each case – making it better for the victim who will no longer have to deal with three or four different agencies and officers.

The introduction of this service will not impact on the role of the Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) who will continue working with victims and their families in cases handled by Major Crime and Motor Patrols, although it will work in partnership with these officers.

https://victimsfirstnorthumbria.org.uk/

Making a statement

A victim personal statement (VPS) allows you to say, in your own words, how a crime has affected you. You will only be asked to make one if you are the direct victim of the crime, the case goes to court and there is a conviction.

A witness statement is your written or video recorded account of what happened to you or what you saw. The police will ask you questions and write down what you have said. You will be asked to read it and sign it with your name. When you sign a witness statement you are saying that you agree the statement is a true account of your experience. Your witness statement may be used as evidence in court. You should contact the police if you remember something not already included in your original account.

If a decision is taken to prosecute someone for a crime committed against you, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) will  contact you on how to make a victim personal statement.

You don’t have to make a statement if you don’t want to. If you decide not to, it will not damage the case in any way. However, once you have made a VPS, you can’t withdraw or change it.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/victim-personal-statement

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-new-leaflet-giving-a-witness-statement-to-the-police-what-happens-next

Witnesses at court

You can be called as a witness to give evidence in court if you are the victim of a crime, you saw a crime being committed or can provide information to support the case.

Northumbria Police have a Court Liaison, who will provide you with information if you are asked to appear in court as a witness. This information will tell you what to expect at court.

Every court in Northumbria has a Witness Support Service. This service is run by Citizen Advice Bureau and helps witnesses, victims and their families before, during and after their court hearing.

They provide free and confidential support as well as practical information about attending court. For local contact details and more information, visit the Citizen Advice website:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/citizens-advice-witness-service/

To find out more about going to court as a victim or witness, visit the Crown Prosecution Service’s website

Vulnerable witnesses

If you have communication problems and you need to talk to the police or give evidence at court, there will be a designated person to help.

Vulnerable witnesses are defined as:

  • Witnesses under 18
  • Someone with physical, mental health or learning difficulties

Find out more about support for vulnerable witnesses, including getting a trusted adult to write a statement on your behalf or getting an interpreter.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/publication/vulnerable-witnesses

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/victims-and-witnesses-care-and-treatment
https://www.gov.uk/get-interpreter-at-court-or-tribunal

 

The Northumbria Police Witness Care Unit

Once a charge has been brought the police will pass your file on to your local Witness Care Unit who manages the support for victims and witnesses through to the conclusion of a case.

You will be allocated a dedicated witness care officer who will keep you informed of the case's progress, and look at your specific needs e.g. childcare, transport in the instance that the defendant pleads not guilty.  They will also, along with volunteers from the witness service, provide practical and emotional support. They will also tell you the dates of the court hearings and tell you what to expect when you get there including setting up a court visit before the day so you can familiarise yourself with the layout of the courtroom.

On the day, your witness care officer can also make sure you arrive through a different entrance to the offender and wait in a separate area whenever possible.

If you’re feeling vulnerable or intimidated by the offender, the court can provide a range of special measures, such as allowing you to give evidence behind a screen or via a video link from another room.

 

Going to court as a witness
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