The Victims’ Commissioner tells the College of Policing what the new Victims' Code means for police staff and officers.
To mark the new, revised Victims’ Code coming into force on 1 April 2021, the Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, and the College of Policing have developed a video on how police officers can best support victims.
Visit the College of Policing website for more information.
Read video transcript
You respond to all crime and to all victims on behalf of all of us, the whole community. You are there in your uniform clearly badged to say: you’re cared about by this society. We’ve come to set it all as right as we can.
I’m Vera Baird. I’m the victims commissioner for England and Wales and I just want to say a few things about the revised Victims Code which comes into operation on the 1st of April and I want to emphasize your importance as police to victims of crime.
When you arrive on a scene, we don’t know whether the individual’s had experience before with the criminal justice system, and you don’t always know whether somebody’s vulnerable, because it’s not always obvious. So, just treat everybody, firstly, you know, use simple language, because people are not used to criminal justice concepts and ideas, and be nice and courteous, very supportive, as friendly as you possibly can be. Be clear and tell them what to expect so that they don’t feel completely lost in a very strange place.
Pretty well every victim of crime suffers some impact from it. It’s a bit of a shock. People can feel targeted, they feel a bit less safe, they are angry or they’re frightened, or they’re shouting, and they may even do that at you.
It’s the first time it’s ever happened to them. Put yourself in their shoes. Obviously you’re dealing with this day by day, but it’s their first time and they need you to understand how they’re feeling, and they need you to manage it. And don’t assume you know what they want, or that they are angry and you’ve got to stop them. Let them see that you know you’re there to help, and stay long enough for folk to calm down again and you will make a big difference.
You can be so reassuring, especially if you have some sympathy, you know, fellow feeling, a real sense that it’s taken seriously. And that doesn’t stop with just the first visit. They need to be kept up to date about what you’re doing. Do you need to tell them if someone’s arrested? Or, frankly, you know, if they never are going to be arrested because you can’t find them. If they’re arrested, are they on bail? Are they in custody 300 miles away? It makes a big difference to the way a victim feels. And information about the criminal justice system, how it works, that kind of thing, is very good to restore people, not only in their self-esteem and their regard, but also into some belief that the criminal justice system is on their side and that they are going to be helped.