Victims’ Right to Review

There will inevitably be some circumstances when the prosecution has to make a decision to discontinue or substantially alter a charge in a case.  When this happens we will tell victims what we have done and why.  In some of the more serious cases we will offer to meet the victim to explain our decision.  Victims have the right to request a review of a decision to discontinue proceedings or offer no evidence in a case. 

Details of how to request such a review can be found on the main CPS website. Prosecutors will comply with the timescale set out in the Victims' Code when notifying victims of our decisions.

Please note that the scheme applies only in relation to qualifying decisions made on or after 5 June 2013.

CPS Domestic Violence Policy Publications

Find out more about the CPS stalking and harassment policy.

This contains information about breaching restraining orders.

Links

Victim Support is the national charity for victims of crime

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority 

The Sentencing Council website explains the different sentences the courts can impose on a defendant when found guilty.

The Prosecutor's Pledge.

As a victim, or a member of the victim's family, you can expect the CPS to follow the committments in the Prosecutor's Pledge.

Find out more about The Prosecutor's Pledge

Victims and Witnesses

Victims and witnesses are crucial to the criminal justice process. 

The criminal justice system relies heavily on willingness of prosecution witnesses, to give evidence in court, which enables offenders to be brought to justice. Without witnesses being prepared to give evidence in court, all too often cases have to be abandoned, defendants avoid a trial and justice is not done.

We know appearing in court can be a daunting experience. That is why the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and our colleagues across the criminal justice system provide a range of measures to support victims and witnesses to help them give evidence at court. The support is provided by different units each of whom have differing responsibilities.

Witness Care Unit

Witness Care UnitWitness Care Units are jointly run by CPS and police staff who are known as Witness Care Officers (WCO).

They ensure that victims and witnesses are informed and supported throughout the court process, that wherever possible their needs are met or passed to the relevant department to action to ensure the best evidence can be given, and that they are thanked for their contribution. Victims and witnesses receive one to one support to help them through the sometimes difficult process of giving evidence in court.

If you are a victim or witness, you will be contacted by a dedicated WCO. They can help you by:

  • Identifying any requirements that you might have so that you can attend court, such as childcare arrangements, disabilities, an interpreter or transportation. This is called a 'needs assessment'.
  • Asking you for any inconvenient dates when you cannot attend court, such as hospital appointments or a pre-booked holiday. 
  • Updating you on the progress of the case and will explain how the criminal justice process works.
  • Arranging for you to have a familiarisation visit at court with someone from the Witness Service before the trial.
  • Offering support and reassurance with your general anxieties and concerns about the case and what to expect when you get to court. Your WCO can refer you to Victim Support or other organisations if you require more specialist support.
  • At the end of the case, your WCO will tell you the result and explain any sentence. They will thank you for your assistance with the case and offer you further support if you need it.

Victim Personal Statement

Anyone who has been a victim of crime and has made a statement has the opportunity to make a Victim Personal Statement, in which they can explain how they have been affected by the crime, such as emotionally, physically, psychologically or financially.

This personal statement then becomes part of the case papers and is seen by the police, defence lawyers, magistrates and judges at court.  The CPS takes into account what the victim has said when we make decisions on the case and ensure that, where appropriate, the court is aware of the contents of the statement so it can be considered; for example in sentencing.

Children or vulnerable adults can give permission for their parent or carer to make this statement for them.

Find out more about a Victim Personal Statement.

Giving Evidence

Special Measures

Special Measures are a series of provisions that help vulnerable and intimidated witnesses to give their best evidence in court and help to relieve some of the stress associated with giving evidence. They apply to prosecutions and defence witnesses, but not the defendant.

What are Special Measures?

  • Screens - to shield a witness from being seen by the defendant.
  • Live Link - to enable a witness to give evidence from outside the court through TV link to the court room.
  • Video recorded interview - a video recorded interview of evidence may be admitted by the court. For adult victims in sexual offences trials in the Crown Court a video recorded interview will automatically be admissible unless the court considers it is not in the interest of justice or it will not maximise the quality of the complainants evidence.
  •  Video recorded cross examination - this is not widely available yet, but has been successfully tested to allow the witness to give their evidence by pre-recorded video and to be cross-examined by the defence in a similar way.
  • Removal of wigs and gowns in the Crown Court.
  • Evidence given in private - the court can exclude members of the public or press (except one named person to represent the press) in cases involving sexual offences or intimidation by someone other than the accused.
  • Orders restricting what can be reported by the media.
  • Evidence given with the support of an intermediary - these are trained per people who can assist vulnerable witnesses at both the investigation stage and when giving evidence. The intermediary is allowed to explain questions and answers to enable a vulnerable witness to understand questions and enable them to give their best evidence.

Eligibility for Special Measures

Witnesses who are considered as vulnerable and or intimidated can apply for special measures to be granted.

Being eligible for Special Measures does not mean that the court will automatically grant them. The court has to be satisfied that the Special Measure or combination of Special Measures is likely to maximise the quality of the witness evidence.

The police will gather information to assist the prosecutor in making an application and the prosecutor will make the application for you.

Some witnesses may prefer to give evidence without special measures. This is allowed.

A vulnerable witness is:
  • All child witnesses (under 18)
  • Any witness whose quality of evidence is likely to be diminished by reason of mental disorder, significant impairment of intelligence or social functioning or physical disability or disorder
An intimidated witness is:
  • A person suffering from fear or distress about giving evidence
  • A victim of a sexual offence
  •  Witnesses to certain offences involving guns and knives
  • Victims of domestic violence, racially motivated crime and repeat victimisation, the families of homicide victims, witness who self-neglect/self-harm or who are elderly and/or frail might be regarded as intimidated.