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Victim Impact Statements
Under the Act, before an offender can be sentenced, a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) should be prepared for the judicial officer sentencing the offender so that he or she understands how the offence has affected the victim
A police officer or Victim Support worker should seek information from the victim for the purpose of drafting a VIS.

A victim is encouraged, but not required, to provide this information.

The VIS should include information on physical or emotional harm, loss of or damage to property, and any other effects the victim has experienced because of the offence. It should not include what the victim thinks the sentence should be.

People who are not victims, but who have been disadvantaged by the offence, may be asked by the prosecutor to provide a VIS. In these cases, the judicial officer decides whether or not the VIS is to be submitted to the court at sentencing.

Prior to seeking the information, the official must ensure that the victim is advised of the purpose for which the information is sought, that it will be recorded and verified, and that it must be true.

Provision of the Victim Impact Statement to the court

There are a number of ways a VIS can be recorded for submission to the judicial officer sentencing the offender. It can be recorded in writing, on audiotape or videotape, or by some other means.

It is to be submitted to the court in the form recorded unless:
  • the prosecutor requests, and the judicial officer allows, that the information contained in the VIS be submitted by the prosecutor in another way, such as replaying or reading all or part of it in court
  • the victim, either personally, or through another person, requests that he or she, or another person, be allowed to read out all or part of the VIS in court, and the judicial officer allows this to occur.
Distribution of the Victim Impact Statement

Although the offender is normally permitted to be shown a copy of the VIS, there are limits on the offender’s access to it. These limits are designed to protect the victim’s physical safety or security. In particular:
  • the offender may not keep a copy of the VIS (unless the victim specifically consents to this)
  • a judicial officer, on his or her own motion, or in response to an application, may order that a part of the VIS be withheld from the offender if there are concerns for the physical safety or security of the victim.
Where part of a VIS is withheld from the offender, the judicial officer may not take the withheld part into account when determining the sentence of the offender.

The judicial officer can also make orders to limit the distribution and disclosure of a VIS. This includes how many copies can be made and who, apart from the offender, is allowed to see them.

The Act requires that all copies of a VIS be returned to court staff at the end of proceedings, with the exception of copies held by the victim, relevant officials amd specified persons allowed by the court to retain the VIS.

Victims of certain sexual offences have the right to apply for a publication order

Victims have the right to apply for an order allowing the publication of details that could identify person(s) convicted of certain sexual offences. This applies to cases where these details would otherwise be suppressed (in order to prevent identification of the victim).

On application to the court by the victim, where the victim is aged 16 years or older, and the court is satisfied that he or she understands the implications of the making of such an order, the court must make an order allowing publication of the offender’s name. This provision is found in section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1985 as amended by the Victims’ Rights Act.


Next related article: Forward to Additional rights for victims of serious crimeAdditional rights for victims of serious crime
Prev related article: Back to Rights for all victimsRights for all victims

Back to The Victims' rights act 2002 Index
 

Under the Act, before an offender can be sentenced, a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) should be prepared for the judicial officer sentencing the offender so that he or she understands how the offence has affected the victim

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