For many victims, their journey continues long after the trial.
As a victim of crime, you are entitled to:
- be told about the outcome of the trial including, where available, a brief summary of reasons for the decision
- be told what sentence is given to the offender (if convicted)
- be paid any expenses that the CPS have decided are due to you
- be told about any appeal against the offender’s conviction or sentence
- opt into the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS) if the offender is sentenced to 12 months or more for a specified violent or sexual offence
The Witness Care Unit (WCU) are responsible for informing you about the outcome of the trial and sentence. The CPS are responsible for dealing with your expenses and advising you on any appeals. They will also provide the Victim Contact Scheme with your details.
If you opt in to the Victim Contact Scheme you have a right to:
- be given a Victim Liaison Officer as your point of contact in the Probation Service
- be told by the Probation Service if a Parole Board hearing is coming up
Your entitlements are explained in detail in the Victims’ Code.
When the trial ends you might feel anxious to put everything behind you. But make sure you’ve understood the verdict and that you can access support later if you do need it.
Get the sentence explained to you
Just as many victims have never entered a courtroom, most will be unfamiliar with sentencing and unaware of what a sentence means. It is important that either the prosecutor or someone from the WCU explains what the sentence means in reality.
For example, if the offender is handed a determinate sentence, many are released automatically halfway through the sentence (or even earlier, if they’ve spent time on remand), to spend the remainder of the sentence on licence in the community.
Join the Victim Contact Scheme
Having been through the trauma of a trial, receiving a letter out of the blue asking you to opt into the Victim Contact Scheme is usually the last thing you want. Our advice is always to opt in or at least, keep the letter so that you can reply at a future time of your choice. The scheme keeps you in the loop and gives you the opportunity to make decisions about, for example, requesting licence conditions.
Guidance after the trial
The victim information site gives more detailed information about:
- how to join the Victims’ Contact Scheme
- your rights if the offender appeals
- local support after the trail
- what to do if the offender contacts you