Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales (Victim Code)
The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime sets out the services and the minimum standard for these services, that must be provided to victims of crime by organisations in England and Wales.
Various public organisation are required to deliver the Rights under this code, including Police and Crime Commissioners, the NHS and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The code defines a victim as a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss, which was directly caused by a criminal offence. A person can also receive rights under this code, if the person is a parent or guardian of the victim, and the victim is under 18 years of age.
The Code acknowledges that victims who are considered vulnerable or intimidated are more likely to require specialist assistance. As a result of being vulnerable or intimidated, you may be eligible for enhanced rights under the Code.
Under the Code of Practice, all service providers must have the victim’s best interest as their primary consideration and taken into account the victim’s needs, views and concerns.
What rights apply to you depends on whether the crime has been reported to the police, if the case was taken to court, and whether the defendant was convicted of the crime. The code will also take into account your personal needs and circumstances. Rights 1, 4 and 12 will apply to all victims regardless. The remaining rights only apply where a crime has been reported to the police. The public authority involved in your case, should be able to tell you which rights apply to your circumstances.
According to the code, victims can expect to be treated with dignity and respect, and enabled to make informed decisions that are fully respected. Victims can also expect to have their privacy respected, by public bodies in accordance with their obligations under the relevant privacy and data protection laws.
Victims currently have the following rights under the code:
Right 1 – To be able to understand and to be understood
Victims have the right to be given information, in a way that is easy to understand, and to be provided with assistance to help understand information.
Right 2 – To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay
Victims have the right for the details of the crime to be recorded by the police as soon as possible after the incident. If a victim is required to provide a witness statement or be interviewed, they have the right to be provided with assistance to support them through the process.
Right 3 – To be provided with information when reporting the crime.
Victims have the right to receive written confirmation, be provided with information reading the criminal justice system, and to be told about programmes or services for victims.
Right 4 – To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support taiored to your needs
Victims have the right to be referred to services that support victims. This can include having your needs assessed so services and support can be tailored to the victim. If eligible, victims have the right to be offered a referral to specialist support services.
Right 5 – To be provided with information about compensation
Where eligible, victims have the right to be told about how to claim compensation for any loss, damage, or injury caused as a result of a crime.
Right 6 – To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution
Victims have the right to be provided with updates on their case, and be told when important decisions are taken. Victims also have the right at certain stages to ask for decisions to be looked at again.
Right 7 – To make a Victim Personal Statement
Victims have a right to make Victim Personal Statement, which tells the court how the crime has affected you. Victims should be provided with information about the process.
Right 8 – To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness
If the case goes to court, the victim has the right to be told the time, date and location of any hearing, and the outcome of the hearing in a timely manner. If you are required to give evidence you have the right to be offered the appropriate help where possible.
Right 9 – To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals
Victims have the right to be told the outcome of the case. If the offender appeals against the conviction or sentence, victims have the right to be told about the appeal.
Right 10 – To be paid expenses and have property returned
If you are required to attend court, victims have the right to claim certain expenses. If your property was taken as evidence, you have the right to get it back as soon as possible
Right 11 – To be given information about the offender following conviction
Where eligible, victims have the right to be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme, which will provide with information about the offender and their progress in prison, and if/when they become eligible for consideration of parole or release.
Right 12 – To make a complaint about your rights not being met
If you believe that you have not received your rights, you have the right to make a complaint to the relevant service provider. If you remain unhappy, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
As above, if you are interested in making a complaint to a public body, for not receiving your rights, please contact our actions against the public bodies department.
Cerise White, Trainee Solicitor