Steps to follow
Report the matter to the police as soon as possible. Dial 999 if it’s an emergency, otherwise, report it to your local police station either in person, via phone or online.
You’ll need to make a statement to the police so jot down notes as to what happened to keep the incident fresh in your mind.
Once your statement is complete, read it through to make sure it’s accurate and then sign it.
Get a crime reference number off the investigating officers which you can use to inquire about the matter in future. You’ll need to give the reference number to your insurance company if the crime is theft related.
If you’re worried about reporting a crime, there are measures to protect you (eg, police only write down your address on the back of your statement – the defendant or their solicitor will only get a copy of the front, so they won’t see where you live). Police and the CPS can also protect your identity during the investigation, the early days of a trial and in extreme cases, during the trial itself.
When you go to court you have the right, wherever possible, to a separate waiting area and a seat in court away from the defendant’s family. If you’re a a vulnerable or intimidated victim (eg a victim of a sexual offence), police can apply for ‘special measures’, including screens to stop you from having to see the defendant.
Other legal rights available to victims include: regular updates from the police about your case: to be told when the criminal is arrested, charged, bailed and sentenced; to get clear information about whether you qualify for compensation; to be told when the offender is about to be set free (if they’ve been jailed for more than a year for a sexual or violent offence); to be allowed to make a ‘victim personal statement’, informing (the police, the prosecutor and the court) how the crime has affected you.
If you’re a victim of a certain type of crime – including burglary, serious criminal damage, arson, racial harassment, or assault – the police will automatically pass your details on to Victim Support, a charity that offers help and support to anyone affected by crime. If you don't want this to happen, tell the police officer dealing with your case.
You can contact Victim Support yourself if you’ve been the victim of any crime. Other similar organisations include Woman's Aid, which provides a domestic violence helpline, and The Survivors Trust which offers support to sexual abuse victims.
Victims of violent crimes may be eligible for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This is a free service which provides awards of between £1000 and £500,000. You can complete the application yourself, or you can get help from Victim Support or Citizens Advice or pay for a solicitor to help you.
There are four types of compensation you can claim. These are: for injuries (including sexual offences); because a loved one has died as a result of a violent crime; for loss of earnings; for special expenses (eg medical treatment not available on the NHS).
You can still claims compensation from CICA if you were injured in an act of violence in England, Scotland or Wales – even if an offender wasn’t convicted of, or even charged with the crime. If the incident happened abroad, CICA should be able to advise you about how to go about claiming compensation – not all countries have similar compensation schemes, but some do.
What to watch out for
If you’re making an application to CICA, make sure you get it submitted within two years of the incident that caused your injury – applications will only be accepted after this time if it wasn’t reasonable to expect you to make an application within this time.
Solicitor’s top tip
Those who have been injured through crime or had property has been damaged or stolen, you may be able to get ‘compensation’ from the person responsible. This may be awarded by the criminal court if there’s a conviction, otherwise it can be pursued through the civil courts. It will cost you money to pursue it in this way – get legal advice as to whether it’s worth it. Make sure you keep copies of any documents related to the incident.
The Survivors Trust
International Child Abduction and Contact Unit
Code of Practice for Victims of Crime
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
Criminal injuries compensation in EU countries
Criminal injuries compensation from a non-EU country
First-tier Tribunal (Criminal Injuries Compensation)
Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)
Court of Protection
Crown Prosecution Service
Her Majesty's Courts Service
Office for Judicial Complaints
Internet Watch Foundation
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
Association of Police Authorities
Independent Police Complaints Commission
National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA)
Overview of crime and criminal law
Crown Prosecution Service
Criminal justice process
Do I need a lawyer? (personal)
Choices if you cannot afford a lawyer