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CPS Public Policy Statement on the Delivery of Services to Victims
The Prosecutors' Pledge

Updated - 23/01/08

The Crown Prosecution Service will:

  • Take into account the impact on the victim or their family when making a charging decision.

    In doing so the prosecutor will listen to the voice of the victim through their witness and victim personal statement and ensure that the charge adequately reflects the criminality of the offending.

    • Consider the impact on the victim as part of the public interest considerations applying strictly the Code for Crown Prosecutors when reviewing a case.
    • Build robust cases and improve the quality of victim personal statements, working closely with police locally.
    • Listen to and understand the impact of offending on the wider community through wider community engagement initiatives.
  • Inform the victim where the charge is withdrawn, discontinued or substantially altered.

    Including the upgrading or downgrading of charge and in defined categories of offence the prosecutor will offer a face to face meeting with the victim to explain the decision.

    • Where the victim is vulnerable or intimidated communicate the decision within 1 working day and, for all other victims, within 5 working days in compliance with 7.3 and 7.4 of the Code of Practice For Victims of Crime.
    • For offences of murder, manslaughter, death by dangerous or careless driving, child abuse, sexual offences, racially and religiously aggravated offences or those with a homophobic or transphobic element always; offer to meet the victim in compliance with 7.6 and 7.7 of the Code of Practice For Victims of Crime.
    • Where the charge relates to a death in custody, always ensure that the published criteria and procedures applying to such cases are followed.
  • Where practical seek a victim's view or that of the family when considering the acceptability of a plea.

    When a plea of guilty is offered the prosecutor, wherever practical, will speak with the victim or victim's family attending court to ensure that any views expressed are taken into account when considering the acceptability of the plea. The prosecution will, if necessary, seek an adjournment to facilitate such discussion.

    • Apply the procedure under section 10 of the Code for Crown Prosecutors; section 6 of the Farquharson Guidelines on the Role and Responsibility of the Prosecution Advocate and Section C1 of the AG Guidelines on the Acceptance of Pleas and the Prosecution Role in the Sentencing Exercise 2005.
  • Address the specific needs of a victim and where justified seek to protect their identity by making an appropriate application to the court.

    The prosecutor will be assisted in forming their judgment by the police or other investigative authority and where appropriate will make an application for "special measures" to ensure that victims are able to give "best evidence" before the court. In appropriate circumstances the prosecutor may also make an application to protect the identity of the victim or prevent inappropriate reporting in the media.

    • Ensure that any recommendations identified by police on the "Witness Needs Assessment Form" are actioned.
    • Ensure that victims are referred to the Witness Service in order that they may be assisted in their preparation to appear before the court.
    • Where the victim is vulnerable or intimidated ensure that an application is made for the appropriate "special measures" to meet the identified needs of the victim. (Section with 7.8 of the The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime).
    • Save for those offences where the anonymity of the victim is protected by statute; in exceptional circumstances and where justified, make an application to the court to protect the identity of the victim. In doing a prosecutor will have due regard to the factors in R [Al-Fawwaz] -v- Governor of Brixton Prison 2002 1 AC556 HL.
    • Save for any reporting restrictions that may apply during trial; consider making an application under section 58(7) or 58(8) of the CPIA 1996 to prevent media reporting where a defendant has been convicted of an offence and where there are substantial grounds for believing that an assertion made about a victim is false or irrelevant to sentence.
  • Assist victims at court to refresh their memory from their written or video statement and answer their questions on court procedure and processes.

    The prosecutor will introduce themselves to a victim at court and whilst not permitted to discuss their evidence, answer any questions on court procedure and processes. The prosecutor will also provide the victim with an opportunity to read their statement or see their video taped statement before giving evidence and:

    • Introduce themselves to victims at court; answer any questions on procedure and provide an indication of how long they may have to wait before giving evidence. (Section 7.9 of The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime).
    • Comply with any other requirement under the professional Codes of Conduct concerning contact with victims at court eg para 6.1.4 Written Standards for the Conduct of Professional Work, Bar Code of Conduct.
    • Apply the Bar/CPS Standard on "Communication Between Victims, Witnesses and The Prosecuting Advocate 2006".
    • Work with the local Bar to monitor compliance of the Standard.
  • Promote and encourage two way communications between victim and prosecutor at court.

    The prosecutor will ensure that during the course of the court hearing the victim is kept informed of the progress of the case and will promote two way communication to enable a victim or their family to pass to the prosecutor any information that may assist in the conduct of the prosecution or have a bearing on an assertion made by the defence.

    • Wherever possible explain the reason for any delay to a victim giving evidence and wherever possible tell the victim how long the wait is likely to be. (Section 7.10 of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime).
    • Apply the Bar/CPS Standard on "Communication Between Victims, Witnesses and The Prosecuting Advocate 2006".
    • Work with the local Bar to monitor compliance of the Standard.
  • Protect victims from unwarranted or irrelevant attacks on their character and may seek the courts intervention where cross examination is considered to be inappropriate or oppressive.

    The prosecutor will be alert during the course of the trial to unwarranted or irrelevant attacks on the victim's character and may seek the courts intervention where, for example, the prosecutor considers that cross examination by the defence is inappropriate or oppressive.

    • In seeking the courts intervention be mindful of:

      a) para 708(g) of PtV11 Conduct of Work By Practising Barristers, Bar Code of Conduct concerning statements or questions which are "merely scandalous or intended or calculated only to vilify or annoy": and or

      b) para 708(j) cross examination that suggests or contains a defamatory aspersion on the conduct of a person that does not go to a matter in issue and is not supported by "reasonable grounds".

    • Apply section E of the AG Guidelines on the Acceptance of Plea and the Prosecution Role in the Sentencing Exercise 2005.
    • Remind the court, where appropriate, of the guidance contained in the JSB Equal Treatment Bench Book.
  • On conviction, robustly challenge defence mitigation which is derogatory to a victim's character.

    At the sentencing stage, the prosecutor will challenge any assertion by the defence in mitigation which is derogatory to a victim's character and which is considered either false or irrelevant to proper sentencing considerations.

    • Apply section 11.2 of the Code for Crown Prosecutors and follow the guidance under section E of the AG Guidelines on the Acceptance of Pleas and the Prosecution Role in the Sentencing Exercise 2005.
    • Be mindful of para 708(i) of PtV11 Conduct of Work By Practicing Barristers, Bar Code of Conduct that forbids an assertion in a speech that impugns a witness who has not been cross examined or who has not been given an opportunity to answer the allegation.
  • On conviction, apply for appropriate order for compensation, restitution or future protection of the victim.

    The prosecutor will always consider making any relevant application for ancillary orders such as compensation or restitution and where appropriate and justified on the evidence encourage the court to impose a restraining order for the future protection of the victim.

    • Ensure that prosecutors receive the appropriate training and guidance as to the range of ancillary orders that are available and in what circumstances they may be used.
    • Ensure that when reviewing a case that the file includes the necessary information in order that a prosecutor may make an informed application for compensation or restitution at the court hearing.
    • Ensure that the court is aware of any representation made by a victim through a Victim Personal Statement that might suggest a suitable or appropriate ancillary order.
    • Ensure that where appropriate the court are reminded and encouraged to use their powers to make a restraining order under the Protection of Harassment Act 1997.
    • Apply for an Anti Social Behaviour Order under the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 on conviction and in appropriate circumstances.
  • Keep victims informed of the progress of any appeal, and explain the effect of the courts judgement.

    Where a case is the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal (Criminal) Division the prosecutor will ensure that the victim or victim's family are advised of the hearing and that the grounds on which the appeal is made and the effect of the courts judgement are properly explained.

    • Deliver the commitment through the jointly staffed CPS and police Witness Care Unit (WCU). In doing so the WCU will comply with para 6.12 of The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and notify a vulnerable or intimidated victim of an appeal within 1 working day after receipt of notice that leave to appeal has been granted and notify all other victims within 5 working days.
    • Deliver the commitment through the jointly staffed CPS and police Witness Care Unit.(WCU). In doing so the WCU will comply with para 6.13 of The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and notify a vulnerable or intimidated victim of the result of an appeal within 1 working day after notification and notify all other victims within 4 working days.
    • Where a victim is referred to the CPS by the Witness Care Unit answer any questions about the sentence of the court. (Section 7.12 of The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime).