In this section:

1. What to expect as a victim or witness of a crime
2. What happens after you report a crime?
3. Victims' right to review scheme
4. Giving a witness or victim statement
5. Going to court
6. What happens after the trial?
7. Victim and witness support organisations

After the trial, the Witness Care Unit will tell you the outcome of your case. If the defendant is found:

  • not guilty, this means the charge against the defendant couldn't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt  
  • guilty, the judge or magistrates will decide on their sentence

Why a sentence is given will be explained to you. If the defendant appeals against their conviction or sentence, you'll be told about the appeal and its outcome.

Appealing against a sentence

If you think a sentence is too low, you can ask for it to be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office. You need to request a review, in writing, within 28 days of the court's sentencing decision.

For more information on appeals visit the UK government's website or the CPS

Victim Contact Scheme (VCS)

You’ll be asked if you want to join the Victim Contact Scheme if:

  • you’re the victim of a violent or sexual crime


  • the offender is sentenced to 12 months or more in prison (or kept in hospital for treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983)

You'll get a letter from the National Probation Service (NPS) asking if you want to join the Victim Contact Scheme. If you join you'll be given a Victim Liaison Officer who’ll let you know about any changes in the offender’s sentence, for example if they’re moved to an open prison, or how and when they’ll be released.

You won't be told where the offender is being held.

The Victim Contact Scheme can also speak for you at the offender’s Parole Board hearing. They can give your feedback on any ‘licence conditions’, the rules the offender must follow if and when they’re released on parole, for example not contacting you and your family.

If you decide not to join the VCS when you’re asked about it but later change your mind, or if you’ve not been asked but think you want to join, you can email the Victim Contact Scheme.

Restorative justice

As a victim, you may be able to take part in 'restorative justice', if the offender pleads guilty.

Restorative justice lets victims of crime tell the offender how the crime has affected them, gives the offender the chance to explain why they committed the crime and is a chance for both to talk about ways to put things right.

This can be a face to face meeting or a letter, recorded interview or video.

Restorative justice is used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice process, including if the offender is serving a prison sentence.

For more information visit the Restorative Justice Council.

If you think your rights as a victim or witness haven’t been met

You can complain if you're not happy with a service or can't get a service you need. You can complain directly to the service (eg make a complaint to the police or the CPS).

If you're not happy with what they say, you can make a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

How victims of crime can apply for compensation

If you’re the victim of a crime that's left you injured, or with lost or damaged property, you can apply for compensation

Next: Victim and witness support organisations