The Witness Care Unit or police will tell you the outcome of the trial when they receive the information from the court.

Getting support after the trial

You can contact your local support team if you need any kind of help after you've been a witness at court. There are support teams across England and Wales who help victims and witnesses recover after a crime. Local support is free.

You can also ask the Witness Care Unit, police or Witness Service to refer you to support agencies. 

Joining the Victim Contact Scheme

The Victim Contact Scheme is run by the National Probation Service

You’ll be invited to join if you're the victim of a violent or sexual crime and the offender has been either: 

  • given a custodial sentence of at least 12 months
  • detained under the Mental Health Act 1983

You can choose not to take part in the scheme. If you decide not to join or you were not asked, you can still join later by sending an email asking about the Victim Contact Scheme to vcsenquiries@justice.gov.uk.

If your query is not related to the Victim Contact Scheme, and you have a general enquiry please contact the Ministry of Justice directly via the general enquiries contact form.

The Victim Contact Scheme was set up in April 2001. If the offender was sentenced before April 2001 and is still serving the sentence, you can join the Victim Contact Scheme. Send an email to vcsenquiries@justice.gov.uk to ask about doing this.

How to join

You’ll be sent a letter asking if you want to join the scheme. 

Where possible, a Victim Liaison Officer can also visit you to explain their role and answer any questions. They’ll become your personal point of contact if you decide to join.

Getting updates

After you’ve joined the scheme, your Victim Liaison Officer can:

  • keep in contact with you during the offender’s sentence
  • answer your questions
  • give you information about how the justice system works

The Victim Contact Scheme can also give information to:

  • parents, guardians or carers of child victims
  • the closest relatives of someone who’s been killed by a crime

Joining the scheme entitles you to:

  • be told if the offender has moved to an open prison
  • be told if the offender’s being considered for release
  • ask for additional conditions to be added to an offender’s licence, for example stopping the offender coming near your home

Your Victim Liaison Officer will ask you:

  • what information you want to be given
  • how often you want to be contacted
  • how you want to the information to be sent to you

You’ll need to tell your Victim Liaison Officer if your contact details change.

Learning about parole

The Parole Board decides if some offenders can be safely released back into the community. 

If an offender’s being considered for parole, your Victim Liaison Officer can help you. They can give you information on how to:

  • write and present to the parole board a personal statement explaining the impact the offence has had on you
  • ask for additional conditions to be added to the offender’s license
  • get a summary of the Parole Board’s decision

If the offender appeals

The offender can ask for the court’s decision to be reviewed by another court. The Witness Care Unit will tell you when and where the appeal hearing will take place.

If you were the victim of the crime you’ll be able to go to the hearing, if you want to. You may be asked to give evidence if you do.

The Witness Care unit will tell you what the outcome is, including any change to the sentence.

Finding new information

The offender can ask the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to look again at their case if information comes to light that might change their sentence or conviction.

You might not be told about a review. Very few end up with the case being sent back to court.

Getting unwanted contact from the offender

Any unwanted contact from an offender, including in person, by phone or through social media sites, will be treated very seriously.

If you’re contacted by a prisoner, report them to your Victim Liaison Officer if you have one, or contact the Victim Helpline on 0300 060 6699.

If you're contacted by a prisoner serving their sentence in the community (known as being ‘on licence’), report them to your Victim Liaison Officer if you have one, the police or local probation service.

If you're contacted by an offender who’s under 18 and being supervised by a Youth Offending Team, report them to that team.

You can also call the police on 101, or 999 if it's an emergency. 

Taking part in restorative justice

Restorative justice gives you the chance to explain to the offender the impact that their crime has had on you. It will only happen if you and the offender both want to take part and a trained facilitator decides that it's safe. 

Restorative justice can be done in different ways. You might meet face-to-face or exchange messages, but always with the involvement of the facilitator.

It can be a chance for you to: 

  • describe how you’ve been affected by a crime
  • get answers to questions 
  • move on in your life

You might even be able to agree on something the offender can do to make amends.

It can also be a chance for the offender to understand the real impact of their behaviour and put a human face to their crime. It might stop them from committing another crime.

The investigating officer will tell you how you can take part, if restorative justice is available near you. If the offender is under 18, the Youth Offending Team will be in touch.

Find out more about restorative justice.

Making a complaint

You can make a complaint if you’re unhappy with the way you’re treated by any of the services supporting you after a crime.


Your rights after a trial

If the offender was found guilty, you have the right to:

  • join the Victim Contact Scheme if they were sentenced to 12 months or more for a violent or sexual offence
  • be told what sentence they received, including a short explanation of the sentence
  • be told about any appeal against their conviction or sentence
  • apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
  • be given information about restorative justice and how you can take part
  • be told how to challenge a parole decision if the Parole Board decides the offender is safe to release

You can read about all your entitlements as a victim or witness of crime in the Victims' Code and the Witness Charter


What you should do after a trial

  1. Contact your local support team if you’re struggling to cope or recover after going to court
  2. If you join the Victim Contact Scheme, remember to tell your Victim Liaison Officer whenever your contact details change
  3. Find out if you can claim compensation if you were a victim of the crime