Information for victims
If you’ve been a victim of any crime or you have been affected by a crime committed against someone you know, there are a variety of sources of help and advice.
This website also has extensive information about many aspects of sentencing. This includes the short films About Sentencing and How Sentences Are Worked Out. Information about a wide variety of topics such as sentence types and sentencing myths can be found on the left hand menu and there are also pages explaining topics such as what happens at a sentencing hearing, what can happen at the end of a trial and how decisions are made as to whether a case should be heard in the magistrates’ or Crown Court.
The Sentencing Council has also produced a series of leaflets in partnership with the Family Liaison and Disaster Management Team at the Metropolitan Police. They are intended to be used by Family Liaison Officers to help explain to families of victims how certain serious offences are sentenced. You can download them here:
Code of practice
In October 2013 the Government published the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, which aims to put victims first in the criminal justice system, make the system more responsive and easier to navigate.
Within the Code is information about the Victim Personal Statement. This is the victim’s opportunity to tell the court about the effect a crime has had on them.
The code is available on GOV.UK and includes details on what victims are entitled to in the Code.
Compensation and the Victim Surcharge
Courts also have a duty to consider compensation orders in all cases – which means that if the offender has the money to pay compensation to their victim, then they can be required to do so. Also, the courts must order a Victim Surcharge – an extra amount added on – which is paid into a fund that helps improve services for victims of crime.
Sentencing Council guidelines
Sentences are decided based on the harm caused or intended and the nature of the offender’s role – so the impact on the victim is an important consideration in determining the offender’s sentence.
The Sentencing Council produces sentencing guidelines that magistrates and judges refer to in court. The guidelines always take into account the impact on the victim and do an important job in making sure the punishment fits the crime.
When putting together draft guidelines the Council always involves victims’ groups so that the experience of the victim is considered at the outset. The Council then publishes a consultation on the draft guideline so that anyone affected by the offence, or any member of the public, can give their views.