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Rights of Victims after a Crime

As the victim of a crime your rights will continue throughout the police investigation. Learn your rights as a victim, your right to privacy, and how to make a personal statement.

VICTIMS RIGHTS UK: As a rule, the police keep victims informed during any ongoing investigation.

Even so, the victims can also use their prerogative to contact the police at any time to get an update.

After reporting a crime the police will provide you with a crime reference number. It will explain how to contact the police officer who is dealing with your particular case.

You will need the crime reference number to ask the police for updates on the investigation. Make sure you have it before contacting the police.

Note: There are some key differences in the victim rights after a crime outside England and Wales. Read through the Victims’ Code for Scotland and the Victim Charter in Northern Ireland for further details.

Police Updates during the Investigation

Having reported a crime, the police decide whether they can investigate it – or not. They would inform you within five (5) days if they decide to drop their investigation. You would also get an explanation on why they dropped the case.

The police issue updates on the case once they start investigating a crime. As a rule, they will provide a monthly update (sometimes more frequent) until they close the case.

Once the police start investigating a crime they will inform the victim (within five days) whether the offender is:

  • Arrested
  • Charged
  • Released on bail
  • Set free
  • Given a caution, a reprimand, a final warning, or a penalty notice

Note: You may have other rights and get information quicker in the most serious crimes. The same would apply for victims considered as vulnerable, intimidated, or persistently targeted.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

Police forces can pass over the information to the CPS once they finish their investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service will decide whether there is enough evidence to take the case to court.

As a rule, the CPS will inform you within five (5) days if they decide to drop the charge altogether (or alter it). But, you can request a review of the decision if the charge gets dropped or no evidence gets presented. Generally, you would need to make the request within seven (7) days.

CPS Victims’ Right to Review Scheme

What if the CPS decide not to bring charges or they terminate all proceedings? In this case, the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme is an easy way to seek a review. But, the scheme only applies to qualifying decisions made from the 5th of June 2013.

How to Write a Victim Personal Statement

Your rights as the victim of a crime allow you to tell the police how the wrongdoing has affected you. It gives you an opportunity to explain what impact it has had (on you and your family). The police call this process a ‘victim personal statement’.

Note: A court can use a victim personal statement at a later date when deciding on an appropriate punishment. Contact the Victims’ Information Service if you need specialist help on writing personal statements.

Victim’s Right to Privacy

It is not uncommon for the police to give some information to the media in relation to the crime. In some cases, they do so to help them with their investigation. As a rule, the police force handling the case will ask for your permission before releasing the information.

Note: Your right to privacy changes as the victim of a sexual assault or a rape. In this case, it is against the law in the United Kingdom for anyone to publish your name, your photograph, or any other information that could identify you.

Support for Victims of Crime

There is free help and support for crime victims available. You can also get advice and information on restorative justice if you have been the victim of crime.

Extra help and Information

Everyone has entitlement to support after suffering a crime. You can read more in the code of practice for victims of crime in England and Wales. It explains how the CPS, the police, and other organisations should treat victims of crime.

After a Crime: Victims Rights in the United Kingdom