Your rights under the Victim Code
On this page you will find information about your rights as a victim of crime under the victim code.
The Victims Code of Practice
The Victims’ Code applies to all criminal justice agencies, including the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Courts Service and the Probation Service. The Code was established by the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 and came into effect in 2006. Victim Support lobbied for it to be introduced and has campaigned for it to be improved and strengthened.
The Code sets out what each criminal justice agency must do for victims and the timeframe in which they must do it.
Learn more about the Victims Code in this video by the Ministry of Justice.
You have the right to:
- be kept informed about the progress of your case by the police
- hear when a suspect is arrested, charged, bailed or sentenced
- apply for extra help when giving evidence in court (called ‘special measures’) if you are vulnerable, intimidated, or a child or young person
- apply for compensation
- make a Victim Personal Statement to explain the impact of the crime, and to have it read out in court, with the permission of the court
- be told when an offender will be released, if that offender has been sentenced to a year or more in prison for a violent or sexual offence
- information about taking part in restorative justice schemes
- be referred to victims’ support services
- seek a review of a decision not to prosecute
Revisions to the code
The Victims Code has been revised three times since it was first introduced in 2006.
The Code was most recently updated in March 2020, after the Government conducted a second consultation on the Victims Code of Practice, seeking views on the proposed changes with the ambition to improve the criminal justice system for victims. Further information on the consolation and a summary of its findings can be found here. As a result of the consultation, the Ministry of Justice has produced a revised Victims Code of Practice (2020) which will take effect from April 1 2021. The revised Code can be found here.
In October 2015, the code was amended to bring in new measures to comply with the European Union Victims’ Directive, which came into force in November 2015. The main changes to the Code were:
- Broadening the definition of a victim to include victims of all offences. Previously victims of some offences, such as careless driving or minor criminal damage, were not entitled to services under the Code.
- Ensuring that victims are entitled to receive support and information from all relevant public sector bodies. Organisations such as HMRC, the Serious Fraud Office and the National Crime Agency now have obligations to victims under the Code.
- Entitling all victims who report a crime to receive a written acknowledgement from the police.
The Code was previously revised in December 2013 to clarify victims’ entitlements and the obligations of criminal justice agencies. The update gave victims the right to read a Victim Personal Statement in court (subject to the views of the court) and to receive information about taking part in restorative justice schemes.
How to make a complaint
If you’re a victim of crime and you feel that your rights under the Code have not been met then you can complain directly to the criminal justice agency concerned, such as your local police force or the Crown Prosecution Service.
If you have done so and are still dissatisfied then you can take your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, who is responsible for considering complaints relating to the Victims’ Code. You must first contact your MP and ask them to refer your complaint to the Ombudsman as they will not consider cases directly from a member of the public. Find your local MP.
The Victims' Code leaflet
Understanding the Victims’ Code for young people
The Victims’ Code poster
The Victims’ Code easy read
A full copy of the Victims Code can be found through the attached link. Links are also provided to other sites containing further information of use to victims.
If you have been the victim of a crime and you have a comment or something to say about the service you received the police and crime commissioner would like to hear from you. Please use the feedback form at the bottom of this page.