Understand victim classification, the protocols around making contact, keeping victims informed, storing data and restorative justice.
YOTs have a statutory duty to comply with the code of practice for victims of crime.
The code requires YOTs to take victims’ needs into account in general, but also gives statutory backing to the national standards for youth justice services on:
- ensuring staff working with victims have appropriate training
- contacting victims and allowing victims to make informed choices about involvement in restorative processes
- keeping victims who participate in restorative justice informed about case progress
- storing victims’ information
The obligations of the code apply to direct victims, not third parties or indirect victims such as witnesses.
Parents or guardians of young victims under 17 (as long as they aren’t themselves the subject of investigation or charge) can receive services under the code as well as the young person.
Under 17-year-old victims are defined as vulnerable and qualify for an enhanced level of service.
In cases involving young offenders the police must pass the victim’s contact details to the YOT to give victims access to reparation or other restorative justice processes, unless the victim asks the police not to do so.
YOTs should review and update protocols with local police to ensure this is done efficiently. The YOT must also decide if it would be appropriate to invite the victim to be involved in a restorative justice intervention and record the reasons for this decision.
Voluntary engagement in a restorative process
When making contact with victims, the YOT must explain its role and allow victims to make informed choices about whether they want to be involved. Victims’ involvement must always be voluntary. They mustn’t be asked to do anything that is primarily for the benefit of the offender.
Victims may choose not to receive services under the code at any time. The code states that the criminal justice system as a whole should be flexible and ensure victims receive the level of service they want.
Keep victims informed
If the victim agrees to be involved directly or indirectly in a YOT restorative process, the YOT must keep the victim informed as requested about the progress of the case and notify them when the intervention has concluded.
YOTs may also wish to offer victims who choose not to be involved in a restorative process the option of receiving this information – this is not, however, a code requirement. The code sets out obligations for all criminal justice services to ensure victims receive information about their crime within a specified time.
The YOT must store the victim’s details securely and separately from details kept on offenders. Information on victims should be destroyed when the restorative justice intervention in a case is at an end. Information that is retained for evaluation purposes must be anonymous.
Victims should be informed about the YOT’s policy on storing information, as well as their right to access information stored about them.
YOTs must ensure that all staff working with victims have had appropriate training. Relevant modules are on the Youth Justice Interactive Learning Space.
Information about services for victims
If victims ask for additional help, the YOT must give them access to information about local services providing advice, information and support to victims of crime. They should do this at any time during or after a restorative process.
If YOTs fail to comply with the code
Failure to comply with the code does not make a person liable to legal proceedings but a court can take it into account when making decisions.
If a victim feels that the YOT has not delivered services in accordance with the code the individual that dealt with them should should first discuss their complaint. After this the YOT should alert the victim to the internal complaints procedure.
If the victim is not satisfied with the outcome, they can refer the issue to the Parliamentary Ombudsman through a Member of Parliament.
Published: 8 October 2014