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 our 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.
We’ll introduce you to a member of the Witness Care Unit.
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
To find our more about going to court as a victim or witness, visit the Crown Prosecution Service. And there's information for witnesses at Citizens Advice.
Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS)
VCAS provides a free, independent and confidential service to help victims cope with the immediate impact of crime and subsequently make a full recovery.
The service can be accessed at any point in the journey to recovery. For many this will be in the immediate aftermath of the crime being committed but, for some, the full impact may not be evident until later. Family and friends play a vital role in addressing the emotional and practical impact of crime and if needed they too can obtain advice or additional assistance.
Freephone 0800 138 2020
Visit Victim Care & Advice Service
Victim Support is a national charity dedicated to helping anyone affected by crime to cope 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.
Call 0808 1689 111