A victim of crime is any person who:
Every individual is unique, and although there are many common reactions to crime, everyone's experience will differ. The effects of crime can be immediate, or can take time before they become apparent. Being informed, and getting help to deal with these effects, may mean that you will feel more supported, and may assist your recovery.
* Treatment of Victims of Crime
ACT Policing follows the governing principles set out in the Victims of Crime Act 1994. The Principles provide that a victim should be dealt with at all times in a sympathetic, constructive and reassuring manner, and with due regard to his or her personal situation, rights and dignity. Where practical and appropriate, a victim should be informed:
If you have any enquiries about your rights as a victim of crime, please contact the Victims of Crime Coordinator on 6257 8452.
* Understanding the Justice System
In the ACT, it is the role of the police to investigate criminal offences, and where appropriate, it is their decision to lay charges.
They can either proceed with a caution, summons, arrest, or by way of a restorative justice process (subject to eligibility and suitability requirements). In the case of summons or arrest, it is the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute these charges on behalf of the Territory.
Once a person is charged with an offence, they are referred to as the defendant. The defendant may be in police custody, or may receive a summons to appear in court at a later date. If the defendant is arrested, and you have concerns for your protection, advise the police officer.
The defendant will initially appear in the Magistrates Court for a mention (first appearance). The defendant may plead guilty, not guilty, or may seek an adjournment to obtain legal advice. At this initial mention, bail may be granted, and certain conditions may be imposed on the defendant. The defendant has to comply with the bail conditions, until their next court appearance.
If the defendant pleads guilty, victims and/or witnesses are not usually required to give evidence. If a plea of not guilty is entered, police must prepare a full brief of evidence, which is then submitted to the DPP. The witnesses (including the victim) are given court notices by either the investigating officer or by DPP, which tell them when they are required to appear in court. If you are given such a notice, you must attend, unless the DPP or police tell you otherwise.
* Protection Orders
If you are concerned about your safety, you should consider applying for a Protection Order. There are two types of orders: a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) or a Personal Protection Order (PPO).
Personal Protection Orders are made for a period of up to 12 months; and Domestic Violence Orders up to 2 years.
A Protection Order is an order of the court, setting conditions that a person(s) must abide by. These conditions can prevent the person(s) from contacting or approaching, causing or threatening to cause personal injury, harassing, intimidating, or behaving in an offensive manner toward you (the Applicant). You can also ask for the Order to exclude the person(s) from your home or your workplace, and for property to be returned to you. The terms of the Order should relate to your particular need for protection.
If the situation is urgent, an Interim (temporary) Order may be made by a Magistrate on the same day an Application is lodged. You can apply for a Protection Order, by lodging an Application at the Magistrates Court, or with the help of the free Legal Aid Service at the court, or with your own solicitor. This is separate to any Police Investigation, and details of the harassment, abuse and/or violence, must be provided to the magistrate, so the court can make a decision in your matter.
If you need further advice, you can contact the Legal Aid Domestic Violence and Protection Order Unit on 6217 4299.
* Victim Impact Statements
A Victim Impact Statement (VIS) gives you, the victim, the opportunity to participate in the criminal justice process, by informing the court and the offender, about how the crime has affected you. The court may take this into account, when determining the offender's sentence.
Victim Impact Statements are used, under some conditions, if the offender pleads guilty or is found guilty of an offence against you.
The VIS statement is voluntary, and is different to the statement you may have already provided to police, as you only write about the impact of the crime on you (e.g. emotional, financial etc). You can be cross-examined on the Statement.
* Financial Assistance
If you have suffered injury, loss or damage as a result of being a victim of crime, you may be entitled to financial assistance or compensation.
Compensation can be claimed within the brief of evidence that the police prepare for the DPP and the court. You should inform the Investigating Officer if you wish this to happen. This form of compensation is awarded at the discretion of the Magistrate or Judge.
If you have suffered a physical or mental injury as a result of a violent crime committed within the ACT, you may be eligible to apply to the Victims of Crime Financial Assistance Scheme, which is a fund of public monies. Applications are available from the Magistrates Court, and are usually made within 12 months of the incident.
* What about Family Violence?
Family violence (or domestic violence) is a serious matter affecting many lives directly and indirectly. It can harm adults, young people and children physically and emotionally, now and in the future. Abuse in families and relationships is not normal, in fact, it is a crime.
Family violence occurs when a person uses violent and/or abusive behaviour to control someone with whom they have some type of 'family relationship'. This includes step-children and adopted children, defacto couples, gay and lesbian couples who live together, and the extended family (relatives) of those couples.
No one should have to cope with family violence alone. You may, of course, choose to approach friends or other family members, or a community group for support and assistance. There are also many professionals available to help people who have experienced family violence.
In the ACT, our police officers have been specifically trained to investigate family violence. There are a number of things that police can do to assist those who have experienced abuse, or those who use violence, for example:
* Family Violence - Who can help?
Reporting family violence can be a difficult process, with many influences impacting on this decision. It is important to remember, a victim cannot make the decision to 'press charges'. This decision is made by investigating police, based on the evidence available to them. It is made with the safety and protection of the victim (and their family) in mind.
Once police charge an offender, and refer the case to DPP, the decision to proceed with the charge/s rests with the DPP. You should be aware that family violence charges are treated differently within the criminal justice system. All family violence charges before the court, are identified early, and fast tracked in a special court. This is done with the aim of reducing the stress and concerns of both parties and the family. When the matter proceeds through court, the focus is on offender accountability, and appropriate interventions to ensure victim safety and satisfaction.
Victims should consider a Safety Plan, which is a personal strategy to help keep them safe. Advice about Safety Plans is available from the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS). DVCS is a non-government crisis support agency, that provides 24 hour, 7 day week assistance to all people affected by family violence. DVCS provides direct crisis intervention and telephone support; access to safe accommodation; court support to people who have been subjected to family violence; referrals and information for women, men and young people. If you need support or information at any time, ring DVCS on 6280 0900.
The Legal Aid Office (ACT) Domestic Violence & Protection Order Unit may arrange free legal advice, and duty lawyer representation, for people who need a Domestic Violence Order or Personal Protection Order from the court.
Good home security is more than just fitting deadlocks or alarms. Looking out for each other as neighbours can help. Home burglary is a common crime here in the ACT. It can leave you and your family feeling shocked, violated or angry.
If you have made a report of burglary to police, you may later find additional property to be missing; locate some of the property you reported missing; or find an item(s) that may be the property of the offender… please ensure you contact the attending officers, and provide these further details.
The following tips are provided with the aim of assisting you in your home security.
Other general security tips for your home:
When out, leave a radio, television or a light on in the evening, to give the impression you are home (use a timer);
Keep cash and valuables out of sight;
Identify/mark your property, as marked property is harder to dispose of, and ensure you keep a list of all serial numbers.
If you would like to have a free safety and security assessment done on your home, call Community Liaison Advisory Safety Project (CLASP) on 6282 3777.
* Motor Vehicle Theft
Motor vehicle theft is unfortunately one of the most common types of crime in the ACT, but with a few precautions and greater community awareness, it can be greatly reduced. Vehicle theft not only causes trauma and cost to the individual, but to the whole community. Stolen vehicles can be used to commit other, more serious crimes, such as armed robbery or house burglaries.
How to protect your vehicle from theft:
Anti-theft devices you can use:
Anti-theft devices are currently available to help secure your vehicle, and include: engine immobiliser; ignition shield; fuel cut-out switch; ultrasonic motion sensor; glass etching; glass break detector; high powered electronic noise maker; battery isolator; steering wheel lock; hand brake lock; transmission lock; and wheel lock.
How to help the Police:
If your vehicle is stolen, report it to police immediately, giving the registration number; make; model; colour; and the time and place of the offence.
If you have information that can assist police in recovering a stolen motor vehicle, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000
* How ACT Policing can help:
There are a number of services offered by ACT Policing, that may assist you as a victim of crime, during this difficult time. For example:
Should you require any of these services, please refer to the contact numbers provided below, or visit the police station closest to you.
* Useful Contacts:
Specialist support for victims
Victim Services Scheme 1800 822 272
Domestic Violence Crisis Service (24hr) 6280 0900
Victims of Crime Assistance League (VOCAL) 6295 9600
Canberra Rape Crisis Service 6247 2525
Child Abuse Prevention Service 1800 688 009
Centre for Road Trauma Support 6292 6847
24 hour support services
Lifeline/Youth line 131 114
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
Counselling and support services
Relationships Australia 6122 7100
Canberra Mediation Service - counselling 6122 7130
Family Court Counsellors 6267 0620
FACES (for adolescents and their families) 6162 6100
Legal advice & criminal justice agencies
Legal Aid Office (ACT) 6243 3411
Protection Order Section 6217 4299
ACT Magistrates Court 6217 4444
ACT Supreme Court 6267 2707
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions 6247 3800
ACT Corrective Services 6207 0888
Sentence Administration Board 6207 0836
ACT Victims of Crime Coordinator 6257 8452
CLASP 6282 3777
Neighbourhood Watch: refer to website www.nhwact.asn.au
* Need Help?
In a life threatening situation, you can call the emergency number on 000 free call.
For police assistance in the ACT, you can call police, 24 hours, seven days a week on 131 444, or go to the police station nearest you.
For case updates or queries, you can contact the attending officer, or ring the police switchboard on 6256 7777.
The information provided above is only a brief summary of options and services available. For further information and a more comprehensive range of resources, visit www.afp.gov.au or your local Police Station.
Phone the Police Switchboard on 6256 7777.
Visit your local Police Station at:
Cnr Soward Way & Anketell
This Community Support Website
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Victim of Crime?
The Australian Capital Territory is one of the safest places in the country to live. However, crime still does occur in our city, and it is important to know what options are available if you or someone close to you, has been directly affected by a crime.