VICTIMS OF CRIME
A victim of crime is a person who has suffered or has been affected because of crime.
Being a victim of any crime can have a negative impact on someone’s life. This means that it is important to recognize when you or someone you know has been a victim and to be aware of what you can do about it.
Even though there are many reactions to crime, every person is unique and so everyone’s experience will be different. Some effects of crime may be felt immediately but others might take longer to notice. It’s important to get support to deal with these effects so you can recover from what happened. For more information and useful links, you might like to see the WA Attorney-General’s website on Victims of Crime: LINK
Who is a victim?
A victim of crime is a person who suffers harm as a direct result of a crime committed by another person. You don’t need to be physically injured to be a victim of crime. Victims of crime include people who have:
- been hurt physically or emotionally
- had property damaged or destroyed, or
- a close family member might have been killed because of the crime.
What are my rights?
As a victim you should:
- be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for your dignity;
- be told what medical and legal assistance services are available, as well as any compensation (money you receive for being injured due to the crime) is available;
- have your privacy protected;
- have any inconvenience to you minimised; and
- have the right to give your opinion as to whether the offender (person who committed the crime) can be released from jail early.
Where it is practical and appropriate, you should be told about:
- ways in which you might be able to be protected from future violence and intimidation;
- the progress of police investigations (although the police may have to keep some things confidential);
- be told of any bail application of the offender and the conditions of that bail if it is given (bail is the release of a person who is waiting to go to court);
- any charges laid against the accused;
- information about the trial/court process if you will be a witness in the trial of the offender;
- if you request it, the outcome of the trial, such as what sentence the offender is given;
- if you request it, whether the offender will be released from jail, the address of the offender if it is necessary and whether the offender has escaped from custody.
The WA government provides a free and confidential service for victims called the Victim Support Service. You can call this on (08) 9425 2850(08) 9425 2850
or free call 1800 818 9881800 818 988 FREE
. You can also visit someone in person. You can find locations of Victims Support Services here: http://www.courts.dotag.wa.gov.au/V/vss_locations_contacts.aspx?uid=6320-2145-3718-1365
They can provide information, counseling, access to rehabilitation, referrals, support and advocacy. This service is available to victims as well as the immediate family of the victim where the victim died.
How can I protect myself from being hurt again?
If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000.
If you think that the offender (the person who committed the crime) will harm you again contact a police officer. They will tell you what you can do and may suggest an order to stop the offender from coming near or harming you. This is called a violence restraining order (VRO).
Examples of when a VRO might be made is when someone is violent, threatens you or your property, harasses or scares you. The Court must also think that the person is likely to abuse you again in the future, and that making an order is appropriate in the circumstances.
If you’d like to make an application for a VRO, you can go to the Children’s Court if either you or the person you want the order made against is under 18. If neither you nor the person you’re scared of is over 18, you need to apply to the Magistrates Court if not. If you are under 18 your parent, a police officer or a child welfare officer can apply for a VRO on your behalf.
This is separate to any police investigation. You should tell the magistrate the details of the harassment, abuse and/or violence so they will be more likely to issue the Violence Restraining Order.
For more information on how to apply for a VRO, you can contact:
- Contact Legal Aid on 1300 650 5791300 650 579 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm) – check out their website here; or
- your nearest Community Legal Centre, which you can find entering by entering your postcode here; or
- the Aboriginal Legal Service on 1800 019 9001800 019 900 FREE; or
- the Women's Legal Service on 1800 625 1221800 625 122 FREE.
Can I get money (called compensation) to help with my injuries?
If you have suffered a physical or mental injury, or a close relative dies as a result of a crime, you may be able to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The financial help that you will receive will be to compensate you for your injury, any loss of income or any medical expenses you have to pay as a result of what happened.
There are strict rules about this scheme, so it’s a good idea to get legal advice if you think you want to apply. One of the rules is that you have to report the crime to the police.
You must apply for this compensation within 3 years of when the crime happened.
To make a claim, you must complete a written application form. If you are under 18 years of age, your parent or guardian can submit the application form for you. The application forms are available at the bottom of the Department of the Attorney General’s page: LINK
: http://www.courts.dotag.wa.gov.au/C/compensation.aspx?uid=1894-2822-6966-4703 as well as guidelines and brochures on compensation to help you or your parent or guardian fill out the form.
If you want to talk to someone about what’s happened
It is important to talk to someone if you have been a victim of a crime. Talking to one of your friends or family members might be helpful, or you might want to talk to someone else. There are lots of support services you can access if you do want to talk to someone else.
The Victim’s Support Services WA has a range of options available to help victims. They can provide counselling and support, information about victim impact statements and violence restraining orders and help victims understand their rights. The list of services is found on their website here. You can call them on 1800 818 9881800 818 988 FREE
You can also contact the Kids Helpline if you feel like talking to someone about the issues you are going through. They provide a free and confidential counselling service for young people. You can call them anytime on 1800 55 18001800 55 1800 FREE
If you are a victim of sexual assault or family & domestic violence you can call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 737 7321800 737 732 FREE
. They give specialised counselling and support for victims of this crime.
How can I report a crime?
In an emergency situation, you should always call 000 for help immediately.
For crimes committed which are not emergencies, you can choose to:
- Report a crime over the phone by ringing the Police Assistance Line on 131 444. This line is open 24 hours 7 days a week; or
- Report a crime in person by visiting a local police station. You can find your nearest police station here on the WA’s police website LINK: http://www.police.wa.gov.au/Localpolice/tabid/885/Default.aspx Most police stations will have access to Domestic Violence Officers, Youth Liaison Officers, Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers and Aboriginal Liaison Officers if they are needed.
When reporting a crime, try to keep any evidence that you have because this may assist police.
If you have information about a crime that has already happened, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 0001800 333 000 FREE
to help the police investigate further.
What happens when I report the crime?
After you report a crime, what will happen is:
- The police investigate the crime; then
- The police may charge a person with the crime; and if so
- A court decides whether the person is innocent or guilty; and
- If the person is guilty, the court will sentence the person, which may include a jail sentence, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
You are entitled to know about the progress of the police investigation, although they might need to keep some information confidential.
If the police decide to charge someone, if you want you can be kept updated about what the charges are and if these change, the court process and the outcome of any criminal proceedings (like what punishment is given and if the offender appeals this). You can also get information about
Will I have to go to court?
If the defendant admits that they committed the crime, you and other witnesses are not usually required to give evidence.
If the defendant says they didn’t commit the crime, there may be a court hearing If this happens you might be given court notices by either the investigating officer or the DPP telling you that you need to go to court and when this will be. If you are given a notice, you must attend court unless the police or DPP tells you otherwise.
If you are under 18, or you are over 18 and the court thinks that giving evidence will be very emotionally traumatic or distressing for you, you will be what is called a ‘special witness’. This means that the Court may make special arrangements for you to give evidence. This could include that you can have a support person near you when you give evidence, or giving evidence via a video link or a screen (so you don’t have to see or come into contact with the offender). If part of your evidence involves identifying the offender you may have to see them, but the court must make sure that you do not have to be in the offender’s presence for very long.
You may also provide a Victim Impact Statement when the offender is being sentenced. If the court feels you are too young, your parent or guardian can provide one on your behalf.
A Victim Impact Statement gives you the chance to let the court and the offender know about how the crime has affected you.
If you think you may be called as a witness in court, it can be helpful to get information and support before the date of the hearing. The Western Australia Victims of Crime webpage should be able to provide some helpful information.
If you are under 18 years of age, the Child Witness Service also provides free support and help preparing if you are to give evidence to a court. You can contact the Child Witness Service for free by calling 1800 818 9881800 818 988 FREE
Can I get more information about an offender in custody?
If you are a victim of crime and you wish to receive information about an offender in custody (in the care and control of the police), you may be eligible to be listed on a Victim Notification Register. You will be given information about an offender’s potential release and any escape from custody.
To put in a request to be listed on the victims register, contact the Victim Notification Registry on (08) 9425 2870(08) 9425 2870
or free call 1800 818 9881800 818 988 FREE
(if you live outside metro areas). You can find out more information about this here: LINK