Reporting the crime
If you have been a victim of violence, it can seem overwhelming and harsh to have to go through a police investigation and perhaps a court case. The police and the prosecution service know this is an emotionally demanding process and will do their best to help you along the way
If you have been the victim of crime, you need to report it to the police. You have to go to a police station in person to report the crime if you have suffered violence or other crimes against your person. The police may also take your report at the scene of the crime. It is important to report the crime as soon as possible after it was committed.
It is a good idea to write down your experiences right after they happen – for example about what was said or done or a description of the perpetrator.
You are not required to report the crime to the police, but it may be necessary if you want compensation for the injury or loss you sustained as a result of the offence.
You are normally only eligible for compensation under the Victims Compensation Act if you report the crime to the police within 72 hours of the incident. The claim for notification within 72 hours does not apply in cases of rape, incest and sexual abuse of children committed after April 1, 2016. Read more about compensation at the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board website.
The police interview
When you have been the victim of crime, the police will interview you about what happened. The interview will normally take place at the local police station. The police may also interview you at the scene of the crime or by telephone. The police will transcribe your statement in a police report. You will have the option to read the report and sign it. Sometimes the police may have to interview you several times during the investigation.
In connection with an interview, the police may also want you to take part in a photo identification procedure if they are unsure who the perpetrator is. The police will show you a binder of photographs of possible perpetrators to look through to see if you recognise the perpetrator.
When you have experienced violence, you must go to the hospital casualty department immediately after the incident. At the hospital casualty department, a doctor will examine you and describe your injuries.
It is up to you whether to consent to an examination, but one is often necessary. The doctor's description of your injuries is required as evidence in a potential court case, or if you apply for compensation under the Victims Compensation Act. If a doctor has to examine a child, one of the parents must usually consent to the examination.
If the police expect you to appear in court as a witness, you can be assigned a contact person. You can read about giving evidence in court here. You may also be assigned a contact person in other cases if necessary.
You can talk to the police about getting a contact person. The contact person, who is either a police officer or a prosecutor, will be able to give you guidance and information about your legal position and about the case. Read more about the criminal justice process.
In addition, the contact person can tell you about the options for special considerations to be made when you appear in court. You can read more about these special considerations here.
If you have been a victim of violence or another type of crime against your person, you must ask the police for a legal advocate if you want one. The legal advocate is an attorney who can help you and safeguard your interests throughout the criminal justice process, at no cost to yourself. The police will tell you about your options for obtaining a legal advocate.
Participation in victim-offender mediation
As a victim, you can sometimes choose to participate in victim-offender mediation. Victim-offender mediation is a meeting between you and the offender in which you can talk to the offender in a secure environment about what happened and how it has affected you. The offender can explain his or her thoughts about the crime.
Participation in the meeting is voluntary for you as well as for the offender. Victim-offender mediation is only possible if the offender has admitted his or her guilt. A specially trained mediator will be present.
The police assess whether a case is suitable for mediation. If you are interested in participating in victim-offender mediation, you can also suggest it to the police yourself. Victim-offender mediation does not replace court proceedings, and the offender will still be punished.
You can read more about this on the website of the Victim-Offender Mediation Secretariat or on the police's website.
Notice about release
In some cases, you can ask the police to notify you when the perpetrator has finished serving his or her sentence or is released on probation. This is particularly relevant in cases of gross violence or sexual assault. You can also ask the police to inform you about the perpetrator's first authorised temporary unaccompanied leave from prison.
For you to receive this information, the perpetrator must have been remanded in custody prior to conviction. Your legal advocate or the police can tell you more about your options.
Other help options
If you need advice or guidance in addition to what the police, the prosecution service, or your legal advocate gives you, there are several places you can contact.
Find and read more about advice services.
Your local authority can also help if you need support as a result of the crime committed against you. In some cases, your own doctor can refer you to a psychologist.
Close surviving relatives of victims of crime
If you are a close relative of someone who has died as a consequence of a crime, you have a number of rights. ‘Close relatives’ are those closest to the deceased, such as a spouse, a partner, or a child. The police or the prosecution service are required to inform you about your options for following the criminal case.
You must also be notified if formal charges are brought in the case. To bring formal charges means that the case will be brought before the court. If you so request, you must also be told where and when any court hearings in the case are being held. You will also be notified if the police or the prosecution service decide to discontinue investigations or decide not to take the criminal case to court, for example. As a close relative, you are entitled to file a complaint against such decisions. As a close relative, in special circumstances you are entitled to ask the police for a legal advocate.