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Victims' rights - by country

Can I appeal against the ruling?

Victims have no right of appeal against the conviction or sentence of the offender.

What are my rights after sentencing?

Following the trial you are entitled to:

  • be paid any expenses the CPS have decided are due to you if you have attended court to give evidence not later than 10 working days after the CPS has received a correctly completed claim form;
  • be informed by the Witness Care Unit about the outcome of the trial including, where available, a brief summary of reasons for the decision. This information will be provided within 1 working day of the Witness Care Unit receiving it from the court;
  • be directed by the Witness Care Unit to victim support services where appropriate and where they are available.

(i) If an application is made to the Crown Court to appeal against a conviction or sentence in the Magistrates’ Court.

You are entitled to be informed of the following information by your Witness Care Unit within 1 working day of them receiving it from the court:

  • any notice of appeal that has been made;
  • the date, time and location of any hearing;
  • the outcome of that appeal, including any changes to the original sentence.

You are also entitled to:

  • wait and be seated in court in an area separate from the appellant and their family and friends. The court will ensure this is done wherever possible;
  • be provided with a contact point at the Crown Court;
  • receive information about victim support services where appropriate and available.

(ii) If an application is made to appeal against a conviction or sentence to the Court of Appeal, or an application or appeal is made to the UK Supreme Court in a criminal case on a point of law.

You are entitled to:

  • be told that the appellant has been given leave to appeal within 5 working days of the Witness Care Unit receiving that information from the court. If you are a victim of the most serious crime, persistently targeted or vulnerable or intimidated you are entitled to receive this information within 1 working day;
  • receive information about the date, time and location of any hearing from the Witness Care Unit within 1 working day of them receiving the information from the court;
  • be told by the Witness Care Unit if the appellant is to be released on bail pre-appeal or if the bail conditions have varied within 1 working day of them receiving this information from the court;
  • receive an update from the Witness Care Unit on any changes to hearing dates within 1 working day of receiving this information from the court;
  • be provided, by your Witness Care Unit, with a contact point for the Criminal Appeal Office or UK Supreme Court staff;
  • be told about the result of the appeal within 5 working days of the Witness Care Unit receiving that information from the court. This includes any changes to the original sentence. If you are a victim of the most serious crime, persistently targeted or vulnerable or intimidated you are entitled to receive this information within 1 working day.
  • wait and be seated in court in an area separate from the appellant and their family and friends. The court staff will ensure this is done wherever possible. It is rare for the appellant to attend hearings in the Supreme Court. Special arrangements will be made for you if the appellant is present and you do not wish to sit in the courtroom;
  • request a copy from the Criminal Appeal Office or UK Supreme Court staff of the court’s judgment in the case once it has been published.

Following grant of leave to appeal, if you are a bereaved close relative, in a qualifying case, you are entitled to be offered a meeting with the CPS to explain the nature of the appeal and the court processes.

Criminal Cases Review Commission

On receiving an application from an offender, the Criminal Cases Review Commission undertakes reviews of convictions and sentences imposed as a result of the offender’s criminal offending. The Commission may refer a conviction or sentence for a fresh appeal if there is some new information or new argument which might mean the conviction is unsafe or the sentence too long. The Commission receives about 1000 applications from convicted persons every year and refers about 30-40 cases for a fresh appeal. When reviewing a case, the Commission will assess the potential impact on you and decide if you should be notified. The Commission will record the reasons for its decisions as to the form of contact with you and in appropriate cases will notify the police of those decisions.

  • You are entitled to be notified by the Commission if it deems there is a reasonable prospect of a review coming to your attention.
  • If the Commission decides that it is appropriate to contact you during the course of the review, the Commission will notify you that an application has been received and that the case is under review. Following the review, the Commission will decide if the conviction or sentence should be referred to the courts, and will notify you of its decision unless you have expressly asked not to be informed.
  • If the Commission decides that it is not appropriate to contact you during the review, but subsequently decides to refer the conviction or sentence to the courts, the presumption is that the Commission will inform you of the referral.

Am I entitled to support or protection after the trial? For how long?

  • You are entitled to access victim support services at any time, whether you have reported a crime or not, and after the conclusion of the investigation and prosecution.

What information will I be given if the offender is sentenced?

  • You are entitled to be informed by the Witness Care Unit of the sentence given to the suspect (if convicted) within 1 working day of the Witness Care Unit receiving the information from the court. This includes a short explanation about the meaning and effect of the sentence.
  • You are entitled to be referred to the CPS who will answer any questions you may have about the sentence which the Witness Care Unit is not able to answer.
  • In addition to the entitlements outlined above, if you are a bereaved close relative, in a qualifying case, you are also entitled to be offered a meeting with the CPS representative who will explain the sentence given. This meeting will usually take place at court.

Will I be told if the offender is released (including early or conditional release) or escapes from prison?

The statutory Probation Service Victim Contact Scheme (VCS) is offered to victims of violent and sexual offences where the offender receives a sentence of 12 months or more. The purpose of the VCS is to provide eligible victims with information and advice about the criminal justice process by a designated Victim Liaison Officer. This includes being kept informed of key stages of the offender’s sentence, at the discretion of the National Probation Service, such as transfer to open conditions or release, and to make representations about victim- related conditions that can be attached to the offender’s release licence.

If you are the victim of an offender who has committed a violent or sexual offence [1] and received a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment or more or has been detained in a hospital for treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983, you are entitled to be notified about the VCS by your Witness Care Unit and be told that your details will be automatically referred to the National Probation Service within 20 working days, unless you have said you do not want them to be.

If you choose to take part in the VCS you are entitled to:

  • decide whether you want to receive information about key stages of the offender’s sentence;
  • be assigned a Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) who will act as your point of contact in the National Probation Service unless you are a victim of an unrestricted patient (see below);
  • receive information and make representations to the National Probation Service about victim-related conditions to be included on the offender’s release licence or conditions of discharge in the event of release. For example, this could include a condition to prevent the offender from contacting you or your family;
  • be informed by the National Probation Service about any conditions which an offender is subject to on release or discharge which relate to you or your family;
  • be informed of the date on which these conditions will end;
  • be informed about any other information which the National Probation Service considers to be appropriate in the circumstances of the case, including about key stages of the offender’s sentence, or treatment in the case of a restricted or unrestricted mental health patient.

If you are a bereaved close relative of the victim of an offender sentenced to

12 months in prison or more for a violent or sexual offence or detained in a secure hospital for treatment, you will also be offered participation in the VCS. However, if you are not the next of kin of the victim, this will be at the discretion of the National Probation Service.

If you are the parent, guardian or carer of a victim who is under 18, a vulnerable adult, or is otherwise unable to fully participate in the VCS, then you will usually be offered participation on their behalf. However, this participation may not be offered to a parent, guardian or carer if it is considered not to be in the best interests of the victim

Measures for victim’s protection in case of escape

In the unlikely event of an offender escaping from custody, the police, once notified by the prison, Youth Offending Team, hospital or immigration detention centre, will notify you wherever possible of the escape and any measures taken for your protection if it is assessed that the offender poses a significant risk of harm to you.

[1] As defined in section 45(2) of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

Will I be involved in release or parole decisions? For example, can I make a statement or lodge an appeal?

If you have opted into the VCS and the Parole Board are going to consider the offender’s release or a move to open conditions, you are entitled to:

  • be informed by the National Probation Service if a Parole Board hearing is to take place;
  • make representations about licence conditions (see glossary) to the Parole Board;
  • be provided with an explanation if a licence condition you have requested is not included on the offender’s release licence;
  • have the Victim Personal Statement (VPS) explained to you by your VLO, including how it will be used by the Parole Board;
  • make a VPS which will be sent to the Parole Board;
  • apply to attend an oral Parole Board hearing to present your VPS in cases where the Parole Board decides that it is appropriate to hold an oral hearing.
Last update: 21/09/2017

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