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After the trial

The Witness Care Unit or police will tell you the outcome of the trial when they receive the information from the court.

Getting support after the trial

If you need any kind of help after your experience at court, you can find support in your area or get support online.
 
You can also ask the Witness Care Unit, the police or the Witness Service to refer you to support services. 

Joining the Victim Contact Scheme

You’ll be invited to join the Victim Contact Scheme if you’re the victim of a violent or sexual crime and the offender has been either: 

  • given a custodial sentence of at least 12 months
  • detained under the Mental Health Act 1983

The scheme entitles you to:

  • be told if the offender has moved to an open prison
  • be told if the offender is being considered for release
  • ask for additional conditions that the offender must follow when they come out of prison – for example, staying away from your home

Joining the scheme is completely your decision, and it depends on how you feel. You can choose not to take part in the scheme. If you change your mind, you can still join later by sending an email asking about the Victim Contact Scheme to vcsenquiries@justice.gov.uk. 

How to join the scheme

You’ll be sent a letter asking if you want to join by your local Victim Liaison Unit, which manages the scheme.  

Where possible, a specially trained victim liaison officer can also visit you to explain their role and answer any questions. They’ll become your personal point of contact if you decide to join. 

Getting updates

After you’ve joined the scheme, your victim liaison officer can:

  • keep in contact with you during the offender’s sentence
  • answer your questions
  • give you information about how the criminal justice system works

They will ask you:

  • what information you want to be given
  • how often you want to be contacted
  • how you want the information to be sent to you

You’ll need to tell your victim liaison officer if your contact details change.

The Victim Contact Scheme can also give information to parents, guardians or carers of young victims, as well as the closest relatives of someone who’s been killed by a crime.

Learning about parole

The Parole Board decides if some offenders can be safely released back into the community. 

If an offender is being considered for parole, your victim liaison officer can help you. They can give you information on how to:

  • write a personal statement for the Parole Board, explaining the impact the crime has had on you
  • ask for additional conditions that the offender must follow when they’re released from prison
  • get a summary of the Parole Board’s decision

If the offender appeals their sentence

The offender can ask for the court’s decision on their sentence to be reviewed by another court. If this happens, the Witness Care Unit will tell you when and where the appeal hearing will take place. 

As the victim of the crime, you’ll be able to go to the hearing if you want to. You may be asked to give evidence if you do. 

The Witness Care Unit will tell you what the outcome is, including any change to the sentence. 

Finding new information

The offender can also ask the Criminal Cases Review Commission to look again at their case if information comes to light that might change their sentence or conviction. 

You might not be told about a review. Very few end up with the case being sent back to court.

Getting unwanted contact from the offender

Any unwanted contact from an offender, including in person, by phone or through social media sites, will be treated very seriously. 

If you’re contacted by an offender in prison, you can either:

If you’re contacted by an offender serving their sentence in the community (known as being ‘on licence’), report them to your victim liaison officer, the police or local probation service.

If you’re contacted by an offender who’s under 18 and being supervised by a youth offending team, report them to that team.

You can also call the police on 101, or 999 if it’s an emergency.  

Taking part in restorative justice

Restorative justice brings victims and offenders together to communicate with each other. It will only happen if you and the offender both want to take part and a trained facilitator decides that it’s safe. You might meet face-to-face or exchange messages, but always with the involvement of the facilitator.

Restorative justice can be a chance for you to: 

  • describe how you’ve been affected by the offender’s crime
  • get answers to questions
  • move on in your life

It can also be a chance for the offender to understand the real impact of their crime and put a human face to their victim. It might stop them from committing another crime.

You might even be able to agree on something the offender can do to make amends.

If restorative justice is available near you, the investigating officer will tell you how you can take part. If the offender is under 18, the youth offending team will be in touch.

Your rights after a trial

If the offender was found guilty, you have the right to:

  • join the Victim Contact Scheme if they were sentenced to 12 months or more for a violent or sexual offence
  • be told what sentence they received, including a short explanation of the sentence
  • be told about any appeal against their conviction or sentence
  • apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
  • be given information about restorative justice and how you can take part
  • be told how to challenge a parole decision if the Parole Board decides the offender is safe to release

You can read more about your rights as a victim or witness of crime in the Victims’ Code and the Witness Charter. 

What you should do after a trial

  1. If you join the Victim Contact Scheme, remember to tell your victim liaison officer whenever your contact details change.
  2. Find out if you can claim compensation if you were a victim of the crime.
  3. Find support in your area or get support online if you need it.

Glossary 

Appeal

When the defendant asks for the court’s decision to be reviewed. It may result in another hearing.

Investigating officer

The police officer in charge of your case who can keep you up to date with the investigation. You can call them on 101 and give your crime reference number to be put through to the right person.

Parole Board

Parole Board hearings recommend whether or not a prisoner should be released into the community.

Probation

When someone serves their sentence outside of prison.

Restorative justice

Bringing together people affected by crime with those responsible to find a positive way forward.

Victim liaison officer

The person who works with you if you’ve joined the Victim Contact Scheme. They keep you updated about key stages or events in the offender’s sentence. They can also make sure your views are shared with the prison or Parole Board when release is being considered.

Victims’ Code

The Victims’ Code explains the rights that everyone can expect to receive as a victim of crime. Different versions are available, including leaflets, an easy-read booklet, and the full code in English and Welsh.

Witness Care Unit

The Witness Care Unit describes a police-led function which provides information and support to victims and witnesses in cases progressing through the criminal justice system. This unit may be known by another name in your local area.

Witness Charter

A government document which sets out how witnesses can expect to be treated by the police if they have to give evidence in court. Different versions are available, including an easy-to-read brochure and the full charter in English and Welsh.

Youth offending team

The team that works with young people between the ages of 10 and 17 who get into trouble with the law.

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