What is the Victims’ Code?
The Victims’ Code, published by the Ministry of Justice, brings together 12 central rights that ensure all victims receive the correct level of support, care and reassurance throughout the reporting and judicial process.
In what can often feel like an incredibly stressful experience, clarity of information, understanding of the process, and receiving the correct emotional and practical support are all highlighted within these rights.
The 12 Rights are:
- To be able to understand and to be understood.
- To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay.
- To be provided with information when reporting the crime.
- To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs.
- To be provided with information about compensation.
- To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution.
- To make a Victims Personal Statement.
- To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness.
- To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals.
- To be paid expenses and have property returned.
- To be given information about the offender following a conviction.
- To make a complaint about your rights not being met.
Who Does the Code Apply to?
The victim would be someone who has:
- Suffered harm caused by the criminal offence; this would include physical, mental, emotional or economic harm directly caused by the criminal offence.
- A close relative of a person whose death was directly caused by the criminal offence or could include a nominated family spokesperson.
- A parent or guardian of the victim when they are under 18.
- A spokesperson for the victim if they have a mental impairment or do not have the capacity to commucniate.
How Can I Expect to be Treated?
Under the code, everyone has the right to be treated with respect, dignity, sensitivity and compassion.
- It is your right to make informed decisions that are responded to respectfully.
- To have your privacy respected following privacy and data protection laws.
- Be supported by organisations to engage with you or your family to ensure a complete understanding of the criminal justice system.
- Spoken to in a professional manner, without any form of judgement, discrimination or bias.
Support for Witnesses
Witnesses who have suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss, as a direct result of witnessing a crime would also be recognised as a 'victim' and can access the same support under The Victim’s Code.
Lastly, the police will discuss what support you might require when you report a crime. Be open and honest about your needs. It is your right to be supported, heard, understood and to fully understand all the procedures.
Making a Complaint
If you feel any of these rights have not been met, then you can make a complaint directly to the criminal justice agency that you have been working with. If you do not feel comfortable doing this or are dissatisfied with their response, you can complain to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). They are an independent organisation that oversee the police complaints system. Their main priority is to ensure complaints are dealt with reasonably, and police staff are held to account. You can read more on their website here.
Victim Support is a charity that supports anyone affected by a crime. They have worked with the IOPC in training over 100 frontline caseworkers on how to support someone making a complaint. We would encourage you to reach out to them through their helpline, email service or live chat if you want more help or advice navigating the complaints procedure. Read more on their website here or call them on 0808 1689 111.
In the last instance, if you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, you do have the right to ask your Member of Parliament to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will consider any objections and, where appropriate, undertake an independent investigation. Further information about making a complaint to the Ombudsman can be found on their website here.
If you have been a victim of a crime, you deserve to be heard. Everyone has a right to justice.