Who is a victim of crime?
The Victims Rights Act 1996 (NSW) defines a victim of crime as someone who suffers harm as a result of an act committed by another person in the course of a crime. This includes physical and psychological harm, as well as loss or damage to property. Family members of a person who dies as a result of a crime are also considered victims of crime.
Charter of Victims Rights
The Charter of Victims Rights is contained in the Victims Rights Act 1996 (NSW), and applies to all NSW government agencies who work with victims of crime.
The Charter contains the following rights for victims of crime:
1. Courtesy, compassion and respect
A victim will be treated with courtesy, compassion, cultural sensitivity and respect for the victim's rights and dignity.
2. Information about services and remedies
A victim will be informed at the earliest practical opportunity, by relevant agencies and officials, of the services and remedies available to the victim.
3. Access to services
A victim will have access where necessary to available welfare, health, counselling and legal assistance responsive to the victim's needs.
4. Information about investigation of the crime
A victim will, on request, be informed of the progress of the investigation of the crime, unless the disclosure might jeopardise the investigation. In that case, the victim will be informed accordingly.
5. Information about prosecution of accused
- A victim will be informed in a timely manner of the following:
- the charges laid against the accused or the reasons for not laying charges,
- any decision of the prosecution to modify or not to proceed with charges laid against the accused, including any decision to accept a plea of guilty by the accused to a less serious charge in return for a full discharge with respect to the other charges,
- the date and place of hearing of any charge laid against the accused,
- the outcome of the criminal proceedings against the accused (including proceedings on appeal) and the sentence (if any) imposed.
- A victim should be consulted before a decision referred to in paragraph (b) above is taken if the accused has been charged with a serious crime that involves sexual violence or that results in actual bodily harm or psychological or psychiatric harm to the victim, unless:
- the victim has indicated that he or she does not wish to be so consulted, or
- the whereabouts of the victim cannot be ascertained after reasonable inquiry.
6. Information about trial process and role as witness
A victim who is a witness in the trial for the crime will be informed about the trial process and the role of the victim as a witness in the prosecution of the accused.
7. Protection from contact with accused
A victim will be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused and defence witnesses during the course of court proceedings.
8. Protection of identity of victim
A victim's residential address and telephone number will not be disclosed unless a court otherwise directs.
9. Attendance at preliminary hearings
A victim will be relieved from appearing at preliminary hearings or committal hearings unless the court otherwise directs.
10. Return of property of victim held by State
If any property of a victim is held by the State for the purpose of investigation or evidence, the inconvenience to the victim will be minimised and the property returned promptly.
11. Protection from accused
A victim's need or perceived need for protection should be put before a bail authority by the prosecutor in any bail application by the accused.
12. Information about special bail conditions
A victim will be informed about any special bail conditions imposed on the accused that are designed to protect the victim or the victim's family.
13. Information about outcome of bail application
A victim will be informed of the outcome of a bail application if the accused has been charged with sexual assault or other serious personal violence.
14. Victim impact statement
A relevant victim will have access to information and assistance for the preparation of any victim impact statement authorised by law to ensure that the full effect of the crime on the victim is placed before the court.
15. Information about impending release, escape or eligibility for absence from custody
A victim will, on request, be kept informed of the offender's impending release or escape from custody, or of any change in security classification that results in the offender being eligible for unescorted absence from custody.
16. Submissions on parole and eligibility for absence from custody of serious offenders
A victim will, on request, be provided with the opportunity to make submissions concerning the granting of parole to a serious offender or any change in security classification that would result in a serious offender being eligible for unescorted absence from custody.
17. Compensation for victims of personal violence
A victim of a crime involving sexual or other serious personal violence is entitled to make a claim under a statutory scheme for victims' compensation.
18. Information about complaint procedure where Charter is breached
A victim may make a complaint about a breach of the Charter and will, on request, be provided with information on the procedure for making such a complaint.
More information about victims' rights
What can victims of crime expect from NSW Police Force?
When interacting with victims of crime, NSW Police Force employees will:
- Comply with the Charter of Victims Rights;
- Comply with the NSW Police Force Customer Service Charter;
- Be victim focussed;
- Use interpreters and support persons where necessary;
- Provide victims with a victims' card.
Victims' cards contain the name and phone number of the Officer in Charge of the matter, and the COPS Event Number. The card also includes contact details for the Victims Access Line and information about the Charter of Victims Rights.