Victims of Crime
Who is a victim?
You are a victim of crime if you have:
- suffered harm (whether it be physical, emotional, financial or psychological harm) because of a crime;
- suffered harm while helping a police officer who is trying to arrest someone or who is trying to stop a crime;
- witnessed a crime where a person has suffered harm; or
- if you are dependent on someone (for example a parent) who has been injured or who has died as a result of a crime.
Crimes with victims include things like physical assault, mugging, armed hold-up, theft, domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, child abuse and criminal road accidents.
They may also include identity theft, financial crime, threats and stalking.
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 help and support to deal with these effects. This will assist your recovery. See Victims of Crime WA for useful information and links.
What rights and protections do I have as a victim?
You are entitled to protection under the Victims of Crime Act 1994 (WA).
If you are a victim, you should be treated:
- in a sympathetic, constructive and reassuring manner
- with regard to your personal situation, rights and dignity
Where it is practical and appropriate, you should be told about:
- the progress of police investigations (although police may have to keep some things confidential);
- be informed of any bail the defendant has entered into and the conditions of that bail;
- any charges laid against the accused;
- information about the trial/court process;
- the outcome of the trial.
You have a right to privacy and protection:
- your personal details, such as your address, should be kept private, unless a court orders otherwise.
- if you feel you need protection from an offender, you should inform a police officer.
- You should be informed if the offender will be released from custody if you have expressed a concern about the need for protection from that offender.
- You should be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused or any defence witnesses during the course of the trial.
If you have any enquiries about your rights as a victim of crime please contact the Victims Support Service on (08) 9425 2850 or free call 1800 818 988.
The WA government provides a free and private service for victims called the Victim Support Service. 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.
Contact details are available by clicking here.
Can I get compensation for my injuries?
If you have been injured or suffered loss as a result of a criminal offence, you may be able to:
- make a compensation claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003; and/or
- bring a common law claim against the offender; and/or
- ask the court sentencing the offender to give you a compensation or restitution order against the offender.
A claim for criminal injuries compensation can be made for injury caused by, and/or loss from, an offence which occurred on or after 22 January 1971.
You should report the offence to the police as soon as possible and give them whatever information and help that you can. Even if no one is caught or convicted, you can still make a claim and receive compensation. In some cases, you might not be given compensation if you have not fully helped the police in their enquiries. When making a report to the police, make sure you write down the name of the police officer and the report number.
There is a 3 year limit to make a claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation. The time limit runs from the date the incident took place. It may be extended if the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation decides you had a good reason for not making the claim within that time.
Sometimes you will not know the extent of your injury before the 3 year time limit ends. In this case, you should:
- lodge your claim before the time limit ends, and
- send a letter with it to the Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation saying that your injuries have not settled and you will send more information when they have.
If you believe you have a claim but are outside the time limit, you should get legal advice.
Compensation is available for:
- pain and suffering;
- loss of enjoyment of life;
- loss of income;
- medical expenses, including the costs of getting medical reports;
- other incidental expenses (like travel or medical treatment and loss/damage of clothing).
In the case of death, a close relative may be eligible for funeral expenses and compensation for the loss of financial support.
Remember that many issues regarding claims for compensation are complex, therefore you should get legal advice. If you can’t afford to see a private lawyer, you may be able to get legal advice from Legal Aid; call 1300 650 579, or visit their website here.
To make a claim, you can complete an application form. They are available from:
The Office of Criminal Injuries Compensation
Level 12, International House
26 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
Telephone: (08) 9425 3250
You can also download the forms from the Department of the Attorney General’s website here and then select Victims of Crime.
For guidelines on how to complete the forms, you can access them from the Attorney General’s website here, then select Support for Victims and then click on Compensation.
How can I report a crime?
If you are in a life-threatening or 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 (PAL) on 131 444. This line is open 24 hrs 7 days a week;
- report a crime in person by visiting a local police station. 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.
- for case updates or queries you can call the police switchboard on 08 9222 1111
If you are under 17, you must have a support person over 18 present with you when making a statement. You may choose to have a statement either recorded on tape or written down and you will receive a copy of the statement you made when you are finished.
When reporting a crime, try to keep any evidence that you have because this may assist police.
PAL lets you report crime over the phone. If the crime you want to report can’t be talked about over the phone because it is serious, the operator will tell you where you can go to make the report, or they will arrange for police to come and see you.
Types of crimes you can report to PAL
Types of crimes that you can report to the PAL include:
- Break and Enter
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Malicious Damage, including Graffiti
- Minor Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Lost Property
PAL can also help you with general police inquiries.
You should call 000 for a life threatening or emergency. They are when:
- someone has been seriously injured or is in danger;
- there is a serious risk to life or property;
- a crime is being committed;
- someone you think has committed a crime is close by, or you know their whereabouts, and there is an opportunity to arrest the suspect;
- witnesses might leave the a crime scene, or evidence might be lost, if police do not get to the scene of a crime quickly;
- a further crime may be committed;
- the victim is seriously distressed.
Details of the progress of your investigation or charges preferred are normally available by contacting the investigator in charge of your matter. In some instances this information will be withheld if the release of the information will impact on the investigation.
If you have information about a crime that has already happened, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to help the police investigate further.
How can I protect myself from further crime?
The most important thing for you is to ensure that you are safe from further crime. Any police officer will give you advice when you are in continued danger.
If someone is violent towards you, threatens you or your property, harasses or intimidates you and you are worried that it will continue and put you at risk, you can apply to have a restraining order (RO) taken out against them.
A RO is designed to prevent acts of physical violence and stop threats in the future. It is an order of the court requiring a person to behave in certain ways and is worded to fit each particular circumstance.
There are two types of restraining orders:
- violence restraining orders
- misconduct order
An application for either type of order can be made by a police officer on behalf of a person or a group, a person seeking protection, a parent or guardian of a child or a guardian of a person.
Applications for either type of order can be made at a Magistrates Court. If the respondent is a juvenile, a parent or authorised person must assist the child to make an application to the Children's Court. Courts are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.
To request that police make an application on your behalf, call 131 444, or call 000 for emergencies.
For legal advice or assistance, you can contact:
- your solicitor,
- the Legal Aid Domestic Violence Unit on (08) 9261 6254 or 9261 6320,
- your nearest Community Legal Centre,
- Aboriginal Legal Service or
- Women's Legal Service.
This is separate to any police investigation. You should note that details of the harassment, abuse and/or violence must be provided to the Magistrate so the court can make a decision in your matter.
For more information about legal services in WA, see our Lawstuff page Legal Advice.
What happens when I report the crime?
When a crime is reported, the police will investigate and decide whether to lay charges. They may decide to give a caution, a summons, or to arrest someone.
In most circumstances, you are entitled to know about the progress of the investigation.
If charges are being laid, then you are also entitled to know what these charges are, the date and place of a hearing and the outcome of any criminal proceedings (like what penalties are imposed and any appeal proceedings).
If no charges are laid, or if the charge is modified, then you are also entitled to know the reasons for this.
When a person is charged with a criminal offence, they may be in police custody or may receive a summons to appear in court at a later date. If they are arrested and you are concerned for your protection, you should tell the police officer.
Will I have to go to court?
The person charged with a criminal offence (the defendant) will initially appear in the Magistrates Court where they may plead guilty, not guilty, or may seek an adjournment to obtain legal advice. If bail is granted, the defendant must comply with the bail conditions until their next court appearance.
If the defendant pleads guilty, you and other witnesses are not usually required to give evidence.
If the defendant pleads not guilty, the police have to give the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) a full brief of the evidence. You might be given court notices by either the investigating officer or the DPP telling you when you need to go to court. If you are given a notice, you must attend court unless the police or DPP tells you otherwise.
You may also submit a Victim Impact Statement in certain matters.
A Victim Impact Statement gives you the opportunity to participate in the criminal justice system by informing the court and the offender about how the crime has affected you. A court may take this into account when sentencing the offender.
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 certain information. The Western Australia Attorney General Department will also provide valuable information. You can either contact them on (08) 9264 1600 or visit their website here.
The Child Witness Service also provides free emotional support and practical preparation for children under 18 years of age who are to give evidence to a court.
The children involved can be victims or witnesses to any criminal charge, in any court. This includes the Magistrates Court, Children's Court, District Court or Supreme Court. You can contact the Child Witness Service at 1800 818 988 (free call).
Can I get further information about an offender in custody?
If you are a victim of crime and you wish to receive information about an offender who is an adult or a young person in custody, you may be eligible to be listed on a Victims Register. The victims register provides information about an offender’s impending release, escape from custody, or any unescorted absence from custody.
The victims register provides information about an offender’s impending release, escape from custody, or any unescorted absence from custody.
To put in a request to be listed on the victims register, contact the Victim Notification Registry on (08) 9425 2870 or free call 1800 818 988.
This information was last reviewed on 1 November 2010.
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