Statement of Policy
Cases Involving Fatalities
The CPS is fully committed to taking all practicable
steps to help victims through the often difficult
experience of becoming involved in the criminal justice
The Victim's Charter sets out the service which victims
can expect from the CPS, police, courts, Witness Service
and others. These commitments will help to ensure
that victims are better informed both about their
own case and the way in which the criminal justice
system works. The Charter also tells victims how to
proceed if they are not satisfied with any aspect
of the way in which the CPS or any of the other agencies
has dealt with their case.
It is vital that victims of, and witnesses to, crime
have faith in the criminal justice system. The Crown
Prosecution Service ("CPS") is at the heart
of that system and the manner in which the CPS treats
victims and witnesses is extremely important.
1.2 The CPS is committed to upholding the principles
set out in the Victim's Charter and the Citizen's
Charter. We have made a public declaration of our
principles in our Statement of Purpose and Values:
1.3 Making provision for the proper care and treatment
of victims and witnesses is an essential feature of
1.4 This statement explains our policies about victims
and witnesses and sets out how we intend to put our
commitment into practice.
Statement of Policy
role of the Crown Prosecution Service
2.1 The CPS is an independent prosecuting authority.
We take decisions about cases based on the strength
of the evidence followed by an assessment of the public
interest. This process is governed by the Code for
Crown Prosecutors. The CPS does not act directly on
behalf of individual victims or represent them in
court in criminal proceedings because it has to take
decisions reflecting the overall public interest rather
than the particular interests of any one person. Nevertheless,
the interests of the victim are very important when
we make decisions.
decision to prosecute
The more serious a case is, the more likely it is
that a prosecution will be required in the public
interest. The Code for Crown Prosecutors specifically
says the extent of the loss or the harm suffered by
the victim should be judged according to the circumstances
of the victim in question; what may not be significant
to one victim may be very important to another. It
is therefore important for us to know how the crime
has affected the victim.
about victims and witnesses
When the police send a file to the CPS, it will contain
some information about victims and witnesses. This
information is important to the Crown Prosecutor because
it allows the crime to be seen in context. The information
could, for example, help us stop an unfair attack
on a victim's or witness' character.
2.4 In many cases, victims may wish to claim compensation
for the harm or loss they have suffered as a result
of the crime. Where this is the case, the police should
include details of the claim made in the file. If
these details are not included, and the case is accepted
by the CPS for prosecution, the Crown Prosecutor will
ask the police to provide details or explain why they
are not required. In cases where there is a claim
for compensation, the Crown Prosecutor will tell the
and witnesses at court
2.5 Victims of crime have a proper interest in the
cases in which they are concerned. CPS staff will
always try to help victims and witnesses at court
by giving appropriate and useful information, although
their other duties may constrain the extent to which
this is possible.
3 Service Standards
3.1 Victims and witnesses deserve consideration and
understanding throughout the criminal trial process.
Taking practical steps to improve the service provided
to victims and witnesses is just as important as responding
sympathetically to their concerns.
3.2 We are committed to consistent standards of service
for the care and treatment of victims and witnesses.
3.3 Before every trial, we will consider whether it
is absolutely necessary to require the attendance
of a witness. We recognise that witnesses who have
to attend court often feel worried and concerned about
what to expect. To help witnesses, we will:
o ask the court to set a date for trial which is as
convenient as possible to witnesses;
o let the witness know what will happen in court,
if appropriate with Victim Support;
o arrange assistance, with the police, for the elderly
and disabled to get to court;
o ask for children to be allowed to give their evidence,
if appropriate, by means of a television link.
3.4 Once the trial has started, we will:
o try to ensure that witnesses attend court only when
they are required to give evidence, so that they are
not kept waiting too long;
o introduce ourselves to witnesses, whenever possible;
o look after the interests of the witnesses as the
trial progresses (for example, if the case is adjourned
we will suggest to the court a new date as convenient
as possible to witnesses);
o ask the court, when appropriate, to allow a witness
to leave after giving evidence;
o explain the results of cases, whenever possible,
to victims at court.
3.5 When the victim has been injured or lost money,
o do all we can to ensure that the information given
to us on compensation claims is sufficient for the
court to make a compensation order, if it wishes;
o remind the court of its power to award compensation
in cases where there is no financial loss;
o remind the court that it must give reasons where
a compensation order is not made if the case is one
in which an order may have been possible.
3.6 When defence mitigation contains unjust criticism
of the character of the victim or witness, we will:
o tell the court that the mitigation is not accepted
by the prosecution;
o invite the court, where necessary, to hear evidence
on the issues raised by the defence.
3.7 To ensure that witnesses are paid properly and
quickly, we will:
o pay prosecution witnesses' expenses within five
to ten working days of receiving the completed claim
o try to make emergency arrangements. If a witness
at court needs an advance payment to return home.
to the Court of Appeal from Crown Court
3.8 Victims are usually not required to attend court
when the defendant appeals against conviction or sentence.
To ensure that victims are kept in touch with progress
of the appeal, we will:
o tell the police of the developments in the appeal
to allow them to keep victims and their families informed;
o tell the police the result of the appeal to allow
the victim or family to be informed quickly in cases
where a person has died or where a sexual crime is
Cases involving fatalities
The CPS recognises that cases which involve the death
of the victim may cause considerable anguish to her
relatives and friends. Therefore, we will:
o make sure a lawyer of appropriate experience deals
with and looks after the case;
o be prepared to meet relatives of the victim to discuss
the basis on which a decision was taken;
o ask the court to pay special attention to the listing
of these cases.
In publishing this statement, we hope we have shown
you our commitment to the proper care and treatment
of victims and witnesses. We shall keep this statement
under continuous review.
4.2 The criminal justice system depends on victims
and witnesses to ensure that cases are dealt with
properly at court. We know that going to court may
sometimes be a difficult experience. Having read this
leaflet, we hope that you will feel less worried about
the prospect of giving evidence. The CPS is committed
to doing all it can to help.