The circumstances of each crime are unique, and so is the journey each victim takes after going to the police.
Your main point of contact will always be the Officer in the Case, however, there are certain agencies you may hear from in the weeks and months following your report, and have continued engagement with if your case goes to court.
The aim of this guide is to introduce you to some of the organisations who may be in touch, and give an overview of the possible different stages in your journey.
Police attend the initial incident or deal with the initial report. In some cases, they make the decision to charge, in others they pass the file to the Crown Prosecution Service.
OIC – Officer in Case – The officer who is in charge of your case, and keeping you up to date with the investigation.
Special measures – Special measures are put in place to help you give the best evidence, and the officer will talk to you about whether you may require “special measures” to help you give evidence at court. This could mean giving evidence via video-link or behind a screen.
Applications are considered and granted by a judge.
Victims’ Code of Practice – The Code is an important step in ensuring victims of crime receive the rights they are entitled to. The Code focuses on 12 key overarching rights. Within each right there are numerous responsibilities for all criminal justice agencies must comply with.
Witness Care Unit
The Witness Care Unit is based at Lancashire Constabulary and is responsible for keeping you updated on the progress of your case through the court.
Once your first hearing has taken place you will be allocated a Witness Care Officer who will keep you updated by phone, letter and/or text.
Witness Care Officer – Person who will be your point of contact during the case and monitors the case throughout the court process until a final outcome is reached.
First Hearing – First time your case is heard in a Magistrates’ Court. Dependent on the circumstances, your case may be dealt with by Magistrates or progress to the Crown Court.
PTPH – Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing – The first hearing at the Crown Court, where the defendant pleads “guilty” or “not guilty”.
Trial – A trial takes place when the person charged is denying the offences and witnesses are called to give evidence.
Lancashire Victim Services (Victim Support)
Lancashire Victim Services provide support to all victims of crime in Lancashire- your details are automatically shared unless you indicate to the police you do not want to be contacted.
The support may be immediate or long-term, virtual or face-to-face.
IVA – Independent Victim Advocate – Support for all victims of crime. They will chat to you about what support you need, and may offer this over the phone or in person.
IDVA – Independent Domestic Violence Advisor – Specialist support for domestic abuse victims at the highest risk, your IDVA will help you with safety planning, emotional support and the criminal justice process.
ISVA – Independent Sexual Violence Advisor – Specialist support for victims of rape and sexual violence to navigate the criminal justice system.
Pre-trial therapy – Counselling for rape and serious sexual offence victims, which can be offered in advance of trial via a referral from Lancashire Victim Services.
If your case is heading to court…
Crown Prosecution Service
When the police think that they have completed their investigation they may pass the information to the CPS. The CPS prosecute those who commit criminal offences.
In more serious cases, they decide whether a suspect can be charged with an offence and if so – what offences they should be charged with.
In less serious cases, the police can decide whether or not to charge someone. If they charge someone with a criminal offence, then the CPS will review the evidence to make sure that the case meets the CPS legal test before it goes to court.
If someone is charged with a criminal offence the CPS will present the evidence against them at court
Prosecutor – Determines the appropriate charges in more serious or complex cases and advises the police during the early stages of investigations; prepares cases and presents them at court, meets prosecution victims and witnesses at court to explain what they can expect on the day.
Victim Liaison Unit (VLU) – CPS VLUs are responsible for informing victims of decision to stop a case or significantly change charges. They are a dedicated point of contact for victims who want further information around CPS decisions, and advise on how to seek a review, make a complaint or provide feedback.
Victims’ Right to Review – The CPS has a scheme called Victims’ Right to Review, which enables victims to seek a review of a CPS decision not to bring charges or terminate proceedings. More information can be found at cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/victims-right-review-scheme.
Witness Service (Provided by Citizens Advice)
The Witness Service will provide you with support if you need to attend the Magistrates’ or Crown Court.
They will explain what will happen in court, who will be there and can answer any questions you have about the process. They can also arrange for you to arrive at court using an alternative entrance if you are nervous about seeing the defendant or anyone else on the day. They work closely with IDVAs and ISVAs to ensure victims and witnesses receive the best possible support.
Pre-trial visit – A chance to visit the court ahead of your trial and familiarise yourself with where you will give evidence.