Victims’ Code

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Victims’ Code) is the statutory code that sets out the minimum level of service that victims should receive from the criminal justice system.

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.

The revised Victims Code of Practice comes into effect on 1 April 2021. It has structured victim entitlements into 12 over-arching rights with further detail, including timescales and other specifics, under each one.

You have the right to:

  1. To be able to understand and to be understood
  2. To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay
  3. To be provided with information when reporting the crime
  4. To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs
  5. To be provided with information about compensation
  6. To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution
  7. To make a Victim Personal Statement
  8. To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness
  9. To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals
  10. To be paid expenses and have property returned
  11. To be given information about the offender following a conviction
  12. To make a complaint about your Rights not being met

Further details under each right can be found in the Victims Code of Practice.

The Victims’ Code has been revised three times since it was first introduced in 2006.

The Code was most recently updated in April 2021.

The Code was previously revised in October 2015, bringing in new measures to comply with the European Union Victims’ Directive, which came into force in November 2015.

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.