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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Your rights as a victim of crime

If you’ve been a victim of crime, you have certain legal rights. For example, you should be kept up to date on the progress of your case and get clear information about whether you qualify for compensation. Find out what your rights are.

Information and services for victims of crime

When you talk to the police or if your case goes to court, remember that you have the right by law to:

  • regular updates (at least monthly) from the police about your case
  • hear when the criminal is arrested, charged, bailed and sentenced
  • where possible, be kept separate from the defendant's family and friends in court
  • get additional help (called ‘special measures’) if you are a vulnerable or intimidated victim, including screens so you don’t have to see the defendant
  • get clear information about whether you qualify for compensation
  • be told when the offender is about to be set free (if they’ve been put in prison for more than a year for a sexual or violent offence)

More details are contained in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. Just follow the link below.

Tell the court how the crime has affected you

If you’ve been a victim of crime, you can make a ‘victim personal statement’. This is your chance to tell everyone involved in the case (the police, the prosecutor and the court) how the crime has affected you.

The police officer dealing with your case should ask you if you want to make one. If they don’t, you’re entitled to ask them.

It’s different from a witness statement, which is a record of what happened.

Once you have made your ‘victim personal statement’, it becomes part of the paperwork for the case. When they decide the sentence, the judge or magistrate will consider how the crime has affected your life, along with all the other evidence in the case. They also have to follow very strict legal guidelines about sentencing.

Crime victims can claim compensation

If you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen, you may be able to get ‘compensation’ (money) from the person responsible.

If they have been caught and convicted, you can do this through a criminal court. You’ll need to tell the police officer dealing with your case, and give them accurate details of the loss, injury or damage.

Another option is to take them to a civil court. It doesn’t matter if the person is or isn’t found guilty, a civil court will hear your case for compensation. However, it will cost you money to claim in this way. So it’s wise to weigh up how much it will cost against how likely you are to win.

Either way, it would be a good idea to keep track of any:

  • extra expenses that you’ve had, like medical bills or property repairs
  • ‘loss of earnings’ (money you’ve missed out on because you couldn’t work)
  • receipts, estimates or other documents

Compensation if you’ve been the victim of violent crime

If you have been the victim of a violent crime, you could be eligible to receive compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). To find out more, follow the link below.

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Additional links

Going to court

Being a witness and serving as a juror: find out more and watch video guides

Local crime and justice

Find out what's being done about crime and anti-social behaviour where you live

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