Your Questions Answered

At Beacon, we understand that being a victim of a crime is distressing. It also brings you into areas of the law that you’ll probably have never needed to know about before. Here, we’ve answered the questions people ask us most often. If you have a question that we’ve not answered, call us on 03000 11 55 55 or e-mail us at info@hertfordshirebeacon.org.

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I want help but I don’t want to report the crime

You may, for various reasons, prefer not to report a crime to the police. But at Beacon, we’ll still offer you our full support if you’ve been a victim of crime.

When you contact our care centre, you can speak to a trained member of our Victims Service Team or to staff from Victim Support.

 

What happens after I report a crime?

Once you've reported a crime, the police will investigate it.

They may ask you for more information to help them do this. This could involve visiting you at home or inviting you to the police station. If the crime happened on the street, they may just speak to you at the scene.

If you're injured, and have to go to hospital, the police may visit you there.

A uniformed officer will most likely be the first person you speak to from the police. If the offence is a sexual crime or one of a sensitive nature, you can ask to with speak to an officer of your own sex.

If you're the victim of the crime, the police will ask you for a statement. This will help them build a picture of what happened.

Police officers receive special training in interviewing victims and witnesses. Sometimes though, it can take them some time to gather all the information they need. They understand that interviews can be distressing, so you can ask for a break at any time.

The police may need to speak to you more than once. This may be to check information and find more evidence, such as:

  • descriptions of people involved

  • descriptions or names of any witnesses

  • registration numbers of any vehicles. This includes vehicles that weren’t involved in the incident, as their drivers or occupants may have seen something

  • descriptions, identifying marks or serial numbers of any stolen property

 

What about evidence?

Sometimes, the police will need evidence from the scene of the crime. How they gather this can vary depending on the type of the crime and how serious it was. 

For example, trained scenes of crime officers may take fingerprints or photographs.

The police know that having fingerprints or other samples taken can be stressful or embarrassing. It's part of their job to make this as easy as possible for you.

If you’ve been injured in an attack, the police also may need to collect medical evidence. This will help them build their case and prove in court what happened to you and how. 
 

What are my rights following a crime?

If you're a victim of a crime, the police will give you a crime reference number. They'll also give you the contact details for the police officer dealing with your case.

You can use these details to contact the police officer for updates about the investigation.

You’ll also need the crime reference number if you need to make an insurance claim. At Beacon, we’ll help you deal with your insurance company and attend meetings with them if you wish.

 

What happens during the police investigation?

We, together with the police, will update you at least once a month on the progress of the case until it’s closed. The police will also let you know within five days if someone is:

  • arrested

  • charged

  • released, including on bail

  • given a caution, reprimand, final warning or penalty notice

If you report a crime and the police aren't able to investigate it, they'll tell you within five days. If they drop an investigation, they'll let you know and tell you why.

You may be able to get information quicker and have other rights if you are:

  • the victim of a serious crime
  • persistently targeted
  • vulnerable
  • intimidated

What does the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) do?

When the police complete their investigation, they’ll pass the information to the CPS.  The CPS decides if there’s enough evidence to take the case to court.

If the CPS drops the case or alters the charge, they'll usually tell you within five days.

They’ll also tell you how to request a review of the decision through the Victims’ Right to Review Scheme. You can do this within seven days. We’ll help you through this process.

 

What is a Victim Personal Statement?

Your Victim Personal Statement gives you a voice in the criminal justice process.

It allows you to tell the court and, where applicable, the parole board, how the crime has affected you, or your family. If the defendant is found guilty, you can read your statement aloud in court or have it read out on your behalf.

At Beacon, we’ll help you write your Victim Personal Statement.

 

What privacy am I entitled to?

The police might ask the media to help them with the investigation. This could mean passing on some information about the case. However, in most cases, they'll ask for your permission first.

If you’ve been the victim of a sexual crime, your privacy is protected by law. It's illegal for anyone to publish your name, photograph or anything else that could identify you.

 

Can I report crime anonymously?

Yes, by calling Crimestoppers free on 0800 555 111.

Crimestoppers will ask questions about the crime you're calling about, but not about you.

For extra reassurance, you can dial 141 before calling 0800 555 111. This will withhold your phone number and make your call untraceable. Calls to 0800 numbers don't show up on a BT or cable phone bill.

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously from a phone box or give information online.

 

Contacting Beacon

You can call us in complete confidence on 03000 11 55 55 or e-mail us at info@hertfordshirebeacon.org.