The Victims’ Code sets out the service you can expect from the police and other criminal justice agencies (referred to as service providers) from the moment you report a crime to the end of a trial in court.
The latest version of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (known as the Victims’ Code) was implemented on April 1st, 2021.
The code explains your rights and entitlements and includes details about the extra support available for some victims in special circumstances.
There are 12 overarching rights and the code explains these in a way that’s clear, concise and easy to understand.
Enhanced rights are applicable to victims of the most serious crime, persistently targeted victims, and vulnerable or intimidated victims.
Summary of Victims’ Rights
Right 1: To be able to understand and to be understood
You have the Right to be given information in a way that is easy to understand and to be provided with help to be understood, including, where necessary, access to interpretation and translation services.
Right 2: To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay
You have the Right to have details of the crime recorded by the police as soon as possible after the incident. If you are required to provide a witness statement or be interviewed, you have the Right to be provided with additional support to assist you through this process.
Right 3: To be provided with information when reporting the crime
You have the Right to receive written confirmation when reporting a crime, to be provided with information about the criminal justice process and to be told about programmes or services for victims. This might include services where you can meet with the suspect or offender, which is known as Restorative Justice.
Right 4: To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs
You have the Right to be referred to services that support victims, which includes the Right to contact them directly, and to have your needs assessed so services and support can be tailored to meet your needs. If eligible, you have the Right to be offered a referral to specialist support services and to be told about additional support available at court, for example special measures.
Right 5: To be provided with information about compensation
Where eligible, you have the Right to be told about how to claim compensation for any loss, damage or injury caused as a result of crime.
Right 6: To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution
You have the Right to be provided with updates on your case and to be told when important decisions are taken. You also have the Right, at certain stages of the justice process, to ask for decisions to be looked at again by the relevant service provider.
Right 7: To make a Victim Personal Statement
You have the Right to make a Victim Personal Statement, which tells the court how the crime has affected you and is considered when sentencing the offender. You will be given information about the process.
Right 8: To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness
If your case goes to court, you have the Right to be told the time, date and location of any hearing and the outcome of those hearings in a timely way. If you are required to give evidence, you have the Right to be offered appropriate help before the trial and, where possible, if the court allows, to meet with the prosecutor before giving evidence.
Right 9: To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals
You have the Right to be told the outcome of the case and, if the defendant is convicted, to be given an explanation of the sentence. If the offender appeals against their conviction or sentence, you have the Right to be told about the appeal and its outcome.
Right 10: To be paid expenses and have property returned
If you are required to attend court and give evidence, you have the Right to claim certain expenses. If any of 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 a conviction
Where eligible, you have the Right to be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme, which will provide you with information about the offender and their progress in prison, and if/when they become eligible for consideration of parole or release. Where applicable, you also have the Right to make a new Victim Personal Statement, in which you can say how the crime continues to affect you.
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.
Which Rights will apply?
Which Rights apply to you will depend on whether the crime is reported to the police, if the case goes to court, and whether the defendant is convicted, as well as your personal needs and circumstances. Rights 1, 4 and 12 apply to all victims. The remaining Rights only apply where a crime has been reported to the police. The relevant service provider will tell you which Rights apply to you.
The Victims’ Code acknowledges that victims who are considered vulnerable or intimidated, are a victim of the most serious crime (including a bereaved close relative) or have been persistently targeted are more likely to require specialised assistance (some victims may fall into one or more of these categories).
Such support may include being offered a referral to a specialist support service, being contacted sooner after key decisions and having access to special measures (see Right 4) The Victims’ Code highlights where such Enhanced Rights apply.
Vulnerable or intimidated victims
You are eligible for Enhanced Rights under the code as a vulnerable victim if:
- you are under 18 years of age at the time of the offence, or
- the quality of your evidence is likely to be affected because you:
- suffer from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983;
- otherwise have a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or
- have a physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder.
You are also eligible for Enhanced Rights under the code as an intimidated victim if the service provider considers that the quality of your evidence will be affected because of your fear of distress about testifying in court.
Victims of the most serious crime
You are eligible for Enhanced Rights under the code as a victim of the most serious crime, if you are a close relative bereaved by a criminal offence, a victim of domestic abuse, hate crime, terrorism, sexual offences, human trafficking, modern slavery, attempted murder, kidnap, false imprisonment, arson with intent to endanger life and wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Additional Enhanced Rights that are available for bereaved close relatives are highlighted separately within each individual Right of the code.
Persistently targeted victims
You are eligible for Enhanced Rights under the code as a persistently targeted victim if you have been targeted repeatedly as a direct victim of crime over a period of time, particularly if you have been deliberately targeted or if you are a victim of a campaign of harassment or stalking.
Victim information leaflet – Merseyside
Read the Victims’ Code document in full
The above is just an overview of your rights and entitlements under the Victims’ Code. There are conditions that apply to some rights, depending upon the individual circumstances of the case and criteria that determine eligibility for various aspects of the code.
For more detailed information, refer to the Victims’ Code document in full, published by the Ministry of Justice.
All supporting public information materials, such as an easy-read guide, can be found on the Gov.uk website.