This guide explains how you can make a victim personal statement. It tells you what sort of information you might want to include in your statement, and what we will do with that information.
What is a victim personal statement?
A victim personal statement adds to the information you have already given to the Trading Standards Service in your statement about the incident. The victim personal statement gives you the chance to tell us about any support you might need, and how the incident has affected you (for example, it could have affected you physically, emotionally or financially).
Do I have to make a victim personal statement?
You should only make a victim personal statement if you want to. If you do not want to make a personal statement straight away, you can always ask the prosecution to help you make one later on.
What happens if I don’t make a victim personal statement?
If you choose not to make a victim personal statement it will not prejudice the investigation of the incident.
What happens to my victim personal statement?
If you make a victim personal statement, it will become part of the case papers. This means it will be sent to everybody involved with your case (for example, the defence and the magistrates and judges at the courts). You can use your victim personal statement to make sure the prosecution keeps you informed about the progress of your case. The courts may use the information in your statement when deciding if a defendant should be given bail.
How does the Trading Standards Service decide whether to prosecute somebody or not?
First, the Trading Standards Service has to be satisfied that there is enough evidence. If there is, we will consider whether it is in the public interest to prosecute.
Broadly speaking, the more serious the alleged offence, the more likely it will be that a prosecution will be needed in the public interest. On the other hand, a prosecution is less likely to be needed if, for example, the offender has already been sentenced for another offence and a conviction for the offence that has affected you is unlikely to result in an extra sentence.
When deciding whether it is in the public interest to prosecute an offender, we will consider the consequences for the victim and will take account of the views of the victim or the victim’s family.
Who decides how the offender is punished?
The judges and magistrates decide how an offender is punished when they pass sentence. You should not offer any opinion as to how the court should punish the offender. The court will not consider your opinion in your victim personal statement when they make a decision, but it will take account of how the offence has affected you.
How can I make a victim personal statement?
You can make a victim personal statement if you have made a witness statement to the Trading Standards Service. A witness statement (also called an evidential statement) is taken from a victim or witness who can give information to the prosecution that might help them solve a crime. The investigating officer will ask you if you want to fill in a victim personal statement when they have finished filling in the witness statement.
If you have given your witness statement in a different way (for example, on a video recording), you may also be able to give your victim personal statement in the same way.
If you are a child or a vulnerable adult, your parent or carer can make the victim personal statement for you if you want them to.
What sort of information can I give?
You should use the victim personal statement to give the prosecution any information you did not include in the witness statement. You can say whatever you like in your personal statement. For example, you may want to tell us:
- if you want to be told about the progress of your case
- if you would like extra support (particularly if you are appearing as a witness at a trial)
- if you feel vulnerable or intimidated
- if you are worried about the offender being given bail (for example, if the offender knows who you are)
- how the crime has affected you if you feel racial hostility was part of the crime
- how the crime has affected you if you feel that you were victimised because of your faith, cultural background or disability
- if you think you will try to claim compensation from the offender for any injury, loss or damage you have suffered (please see ‘Is there anything else I should know?’)
- if the crime has caused, or made worse, any medical or social problems (such as marital problems)
- anything else you think might be helpful or relevant.
Is there anything else I should know?
When you have filled in a victim personal statement, it becomes part of the case papers. This means that if an offender is identified and charged, the case papers have to be shown to the defendant and his or her lawyer. The defendant will see what you have said and, if the case goes to trial, you could be asked questions about the statement in court.
As a result, you should be ready to answer any questions about your statement. You could be asked about how the crime has affected you, or about any loss, injury or damage you have suffered.
Once you have made a statement, you can’t withdraw it or change it. However, you can always make another statement that clears up or changes something you said in an earlier statement.
If you want to claim compensation from the offender, you may need to provide supporting details or proof. You will also have to fill in another form The investigating officer will be able to give you advice about this. You would also need to provide proof if you claimed that a medical or social problem had been made worse by the crime.
How can I update my statement?
If you did not make a victim personal statement when you made a witness statement and would now like to, or if you want to make a second statement describing the long-term effects of the crime, please contact the officer dealing with your case or who took your statement. They will arrange to take your personal statement.
You can update your personal statement at any point before the case goes to court.
The investigating officer who takes your personal statement will make sure it becomes part of the case papers. This means it will be available to everybody who is involved with your case.
Will I get any feedback about my personal statement?
You will not get any direct feedback. However, your statement will be added to the case papers and read by all of the criminal justice agencies involved with your case.
Who should I contact if I want any more information?
If you need any more information about a victim personal statement you have made, or a victim personal statement you would like to make, you should get in touch with the officer dealing with your case or who took your statement.
You can also contact Victim Support which provides free and confidential support. Victim Support volunteers are specially trained to provide practical help and emotional support to victims of crime and witnesses in court. On their website you can find details of their local and national telephone numbers.