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Who we are

If you’ve been affected by crime, it can be hard to know where to turn. At Victim Advice Line we’re here to help. You could be the victim, you could have witnessed the crime or you could be related to the victim – it doesn’t matter, we’re here for you.

We are a free and confidential service provided by West Mercia Police and funded by the Police and Crime Commission. We won’t pass your details onto anyone else, except in cases where we believe someone is at risk of serious risk or harm and needs immediate help.

If you choose to call us then our expert advisors can give you the support and guidance you need to cope and recover from the experience. Or, if you don’t want to talk to someone, we have the option to chat online or via email.
Alternatively, you might want to look through our Service Directory and find information yourself.
Independent, free and confidential support can be provided by Victim Support.

Also, regardless of when the crime took place, whether you have been directly or indirectly involved in the crime, or whether or not you have chosen to report it to the police, we are here to give you the support when you need it most.

Who will I speak to at Victim Advice Line (VAL)?

When you call the Victim Advice Line, you will be put through to one of our Victim Care Co-ordinators. We may already have information regarding the crime, particularly if you have been referred by the police or someone else.

There is free support available to all victims of crime in the UK. Victim Advice Line works specifically with victims of crime in West Mercia, but free support services are available in other areas of the UK too.

Victim Advice Line can help provide support to anyone impacted by crime.

We’ll work with you to understand what kind of support you require and use the information provided to create a specially tailored support package to meet your needs. This package might include relevant advice, information and access/ referrals to supporting agencies.

This support is available to victims anytime after a crime has taken place. Whether it’s a matter of days, weeks, or even years, Victim Advice Line is here to offer support when you need it.

What happens when I report a crime?

Reporting a crime can be difficult, especially if you’re the victim or witness of a traumatic experience. The police are aware of this and do everything they can to make the process straightforward and keep you informed of proceedings.

Once you’ve reported a crime, you should be given the contact details of the officer or police staff that’s dealing with your case, and a crime reference number. You can use the crime reference number whenever you want to contact the police about your case or if you want to make any insurance or compensation claims.

Once a crime has been reported to the police, they will begin their investigation. This will involve gathering as much evidence as possible. They will want to take a signed statement from you about what happened. This is also an opportunity for you to make a Victim Personal Statement, detailing how the crime has affected you personally.

The police may also need to visit the crime scene and gather any evidence that might still be there, such as fingerprints and photos. If the crime was a violent or sexual offence, they will ask if you agree to a medical examination. You don’t have to consent to a medical examination , but forensic evidence often makes for a stronger case  for bringing an attacker to justice.

Police investigations can take a long time. Bear this in mind and expect to be updated with any developments. If you need to contact the police to enquire about an ongoing investigation, you can call the officer or police staff responsible or dial 101. Be sure to have your crime reference number to hand so they can find your case quickly.

What is a Victim Personal Statement?

Experiencing crime can affect people in different ways. The impact on you might be emotional, mental, physical, financial, or a combination of these.

A Victim Personal Statement provides you with the opportunity to explain in your own words how the crime has affected you and your family. Although separate from a police Witness Statement, a VPS is considered by all criminal justice agencies and can play a crucial part in sentencing the offender.

Once you’ve made a VPS, you cannot change it. However, you are able to make additional VPSs to the police at any point before sentencing. This will clarify your original VPS, and give you a chance to add more information about the crime’s impact  on you.

Close friends and relatives of the victim are also entitled to complete a VPS if they have been affected by the impact of the crime.

The prosecution can use VPSs to form part of the case if it goes to court, but these will only be referred to once the offender has been found guilty.

I am a victim of crime. What compensation am I entitled to?

There are two ways you can be compensated for injuries suffered as a result of crime. The first is by the court if the offender is convicted. If you wish for the court to consider compensating you for a crime, you need to inform the police before the hearing. You could seek compensation for a range of circumstances, including:

  • Personal injury
  • Loss from theft or damage to personal property
  • Losses from fraud
  • Losses as a result of being unable to work
  • Medical costs
  • Travel costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss, damage, or injury caused to or by a vehicle that was stolen

The second way to seek compensation is if you’ve been the victim of a violent crime. This is done through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). In this case, the offender doesn’t need to have been caught, but you must prove the crime occurred within the last two years and that it was reported to the police as soon as possible after it happened.

Going through the CICA can be a long process and will involve you discussing the details of the crime again, which can be difficult. You will also need medical evidence to support any  physical or mental injury claims that you would like compensation for. Should you wish to make a claim through the CICA, we can help support you through the process. We can provide details (phone numbers, the website link etc.) for the CICA but we don’t help with filling out the forms.

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice is a way for you to positively address your recovery from experiencing a crime. It can include the opportunity for you to communicate with your offender (if you choose), explain the impact their actions have had on you, and ask them any questions to which you feel you need answers.

Restorative justice gives you a voice and a chance to be heard by the person who caused the harm. It also challenges the attitude and mindset of the offender when they see the real impact their crime has had on the victim. In this way, the restorative process enables the offender to acknowledge and accept responsibility for their actions and work with the victim to make amends.

Restorative justice does not replace criminal justice proceedings. Offenders are still cautioned, convicted, and sentenced like they would be without entering into the restorative process. It’s also possible to participate in restorative justice without police or court outcome.

All communications are voluntary, risk-assessed, and carefully monitored by a trained restorative justice facilitator. You can also withdraw from the restorative justice process at any time if you decide not to pursue it. If you would like to find out more about restorative justice and whether it might be right for you, we can help.

What is the victims' code?

As a victim, you are entitled to certain rights. These are set out in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, or the Victims’ Code. It outlines the kind of treatment and level of service you can expect from all agencies of the criminal justice system, including the police, crown prosecution service, and the probation service.

An easy-to-read, up-to-date version of the Victims’ Code is available to view and download here.

What are my rights as a witness?

The basic rights of a witness are set out in the Witness Charter. It outlines the level of treatment and service delivered by the criminal justice system in England and Wales to witnesses of a crime.  

Unlike the Victims’ Code, which specifies the legal entitlements of the victim, the Witness Charter has no legal requirements, although all agencies covered by the charter should comply with it as much as possible.

The most recent revision of the Witness Charter is available to view and download here.