The OPCC has been releasing information relating to each of the 12 rights within the Victims’ Code for seven weeks now. Each release has covered one or more of the rights.
Right 7 # To make a Victim Personal Statement
Summary of right 7
You have the right to make a Victim Personal Statement to explain in your own words how a crime has affected you, whether physically, emotionally, financially or in any other way. This is different from a witness statement. The Victim Personal Statement is considered by the Judge or Magistrate when determining what sentence, the defendant should receive and can also help service providers to consider what additional support you and/or your family may require.
Bereaved close relatives of a victim who died a result of criminal conduct are also entitled to make a VPS at any time prior to the sentencing of the offender.
To help you decide whether you wish to make one, you have the right to be provided with information about the Victim Personal Statement process by the police when reporting a crime. If you decide to make a personal statement, you will be asked for your preference about whether you would like to read your statement aloud in court or to have it read on your behalf. You can also request a copy from the police and will be given an opportunity to make an additional personal statement to reflect the changing impact of the crime.
If the defendant pleads guilty, or is found guilty, and you have asked that your statement is read aloud (or played) in court, the judge or magistrate will decide whether and what sections of your personal statement should be read aloud (or played), and who should read it. The judge or magistrate will always take your preference into account when making their decision, unless there is good reason not to do so. The Witness Care Unit will let you know the judge’s or magistrates’ decision.
You do not have to read your Victim Personal Statement yourself or have it read on your behalf. If at first you choose to have your personal statement read aloud but later decide you do not want this, you can change your mind. Your personal statement will be considered by the Judge or Magistrate in the same way, whether or not it is read (or played) aloud in court.
In addition to the named point of contact for a business being able to make a Victim Personal Statement, businesses of all sizes can make an Impact Statement for Business. This is similar to a Victim Personal Statement and will be used in the same way in court, but allows the business to explain how a crime has affected it, such as direct financial loss, operational disruption or reputational damage.
The named point of contact has the right to be provided information about the Impact Statement for Business process by the police when reporting the crime, to help them decide whether the business wishes to make one.
Further information about the Victim Personal Statement and Business Impact Statement process is available from the police and at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/victim-personal-statement
You can ask that your original Victim Personal Statement be used at tariff review hearings and at Parole Board hearings. However, you are entitled to write a new Victim Personal Statement for these hearings, where you are able explain how the crime continues to affect you and/or your family, and the impact that any outcome at one of these hearings may have on you. Different rules apply to a Victim Personal Statement made to the Parole Board.
Local processes in Bedfordshire, key information and support
When can I make a Victim Personal Statement?
You can make a Victim Personal Statement at any time prior to sentencing of the offender, however you may not have an opportunity to make it once the court hearing has started, especially if the defendant pleads guilty.
For many victims, the best time to make a Victim Personal Statement is when they are told that the suspect has been charged and the full impact of the crime may be clearer. The police may still ask for details of the initial impact when conducting your needs assessment or taking your witness statement.
Can I change my mind or update my Victim Personal Statement?
Once you have made a Victim Personal Statement, it becomes part of the court papers and you cannot withdraw or change it. However, if you remember something important, or feel that the impact of the crime on you has changed, you may make another statement.
Will the defendant be able to see my Victim Personal Statement?
If the case reaches court, the defendant will usually be allowed to read your personal statement. As with other evidence, if the court agrees it is relevant to the case, the defence can ask you questions about the contents of your personal statement. If your statement is read aloud in court, what is said could be reported by the media.
Further questions or help recording your Victim Personal Statement
If you have questions about making a Victim Personal Statement, how it will be used or what to include, you can speak with the police, Witness Care Unit or a support service for victims of crime. They can also help you to record it.
The OPCC’s / Bedfordshire Victim Care Services (BVCS) pledge of how we intend to support the implementation of this right
BVCS, the OPCC’s Victim Care Service are on hand to provide practical and emotional support to Bedfordshire’s victims of crime. The crime does not have to be reported to Bedfordshire Police for BVCS to offer help, we have a freephone number 0800 0282 887 and a self-referral from on our website https://www.bedfordshirevcs.com/
BVCS are not able to help a victim complete a Victim Personal Statement for but can provide the emotional support that may be needed before, during and after the Victim Personal Statement has been written.
Ongoing projects or work relating to the Victims’ Code being undertaken by the OPCC or collaboratively with criminal justice partners
As part of the Victims’ Needs Analysis recently carried out by the OPCC, 28 recommendations were made with a view to improving the victims’ journey. They relate to further work on cultural reviews and data analysis, process changes, training and awareness programmes, victim support and approach to commissioned services across partnerships new processes. Some of the recommendations are relatable to the rights within the Victims’ Code and they will be detailed in these press releases each week.
Getting support after being affected by crime
If you would like to discuss how you could receive support with coping and recovering from the impact of crime, BVCS can help you. BVCS is free, confidential, available to everyone and is a way for you to find the help that meets your specific needs.
Contact: Bedfordshire Victim Care Services
Freephone: 0800 0282 887
(calls are free from landlines and mobiles)
https://www.bedfordshirevcs.com/ (self-referral form found in the contact page)
Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm
Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Closed bank holidays. Out of hours you can leave a voicemail and we will call back.
Here is a guide for young victims of crime – The Victims Code: U18’s