National Victims’ Information Service (VIS)
VIS signposts victims into getting the aid they need from local services, such as:
- Advocacy services and counselling.
- Emotional and practical support.
- Finding a safe place to stay.
- Finding someone to speak for you and get the help you need.
- Specialist advice for victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse.
Note: The Victims’ Information Service offers support for crime victims with free online and telephone advice. There are some differences on emotional support and practical information as a victim or a witness of crime in Scotland.
Victim Contact Scheme (VCS)
The National Probation Service runs the Victim Contact Scheme. Joining the scheme means you will get a Victim Liaison Officer (VLO). Their main role is keeping victims up to date with important information, including:
- Being informed about the prison sentence of the offender and their release date.
- Being told when an offender is eligible for parole and how to make a victim statement to the Parole Board.
- How to apply for a ‘licence condition‘ to stop the offender doing certain activities when they get released (e.g. make contact with you)
Note: The code of practice for victims of crime and supporting public information materials explains what you have entitlement to.
Note: The Government announced the availability of new courtroom protections at all Crown Courts in England and Wales. The technology (e.g. pre-recorded cross-examinations) spares vulnerable victims and witnesses the trauma of having to attend the court.
How to Join the Victim Contact Scheme
Even though it is not mandatory, joining the Victim Contact Scheme provides a special kind of support available for victims of certain types of crimes. Thus, they will invite you to opt into the scheme if:
- You have been the victim of a violent crime or a sexual crime.
- The offender received a prison sentence of at least twelve (12) months.
Taking Part in a Restorative Justice Scheme
Your local victim support organisation will explain how to take part in a restorative justice scheme. You can also contact your local police force or probation officer if:
- You want to meet the offender or offenders involved in your particular crime.
- You want to talk about how being a victim of the crime has affected your life.
- You want to get answers to your questions and seek an apology from the offender.
Note: As the victim of a crime your rights will continue throughout the police investigation. Learn your rights as a victim of crime, your right to privacy, and how to make a personal statement.
Receiving Unwanted Contact by a Prisoner
It is not uncommon for crime victims to get unwanted telephone calls, letters, SMS texts, or other messages from someone in prison. If so, you can contact the HM Prison and Probation Service Victims Helpline (HMPPS).
Note: Are you worried about someone getting released from prison? If so, you can also contact the same HMPPS helpline for further advice.