Victims and Witnesses
Victims and Witnesses
The CDPP recognises that victims of Commonwealth offending have an important place in the criminal justice system and has implemented a Victims of Crime Policy.
Victims of Crime Policy
Our Victims of Crime Policy states that it is important that CDPP staff treat victims with courtesy, dignity and respect. The CDPP recognises that in matters where there is a victim, that person has an important role in the prosecution process. The CDPP does not act on behalf of a victim as solicitors act for their clients. In carrying out its functions, the CDPP acts on behalf of the whole community.
It is important that victims understand the criminal process and their role in that process. The responsibility for informing victims about that process falls on both investigative and prosecution agencies. The Victims of Crime Policy addresses a number of matters including that victims should, on request, be kept informed of the progress of the prosecution in a timely manner, including:
- the charges laid;
- the date and place of hearing of any charges laid;
- the outcome of any bail proceedings; and
- the outcome of proceedings, including appeal proceedings.
Victims should be advised about the prosecution process, that is, the various stages in a matter being heard before a court. Where a victim may be required to give evidence, any inconvenience to the victim should be minimised, as far as possible. Victims should also be advised in relation to their role as a witness.
The Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth
The Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth states that it is important in all prosecution action that victims are treated with respect for their dignity. In the context of the Prosecution Policy and the Victims of Crime Policy a victim of crime is an identified individual who has suffered harm as the direct result of an offence or offences committed against Commonwealth law or prosecuted by Commonwealth authorities. ‘Harm’ includes physical or mental injury, emotional suffering and economic loss.
The Prosecution Policy provides for the views of any victims, where those views are available, and where it is appropriate, to be considered and taken into account when deciding whether it is in the public interest to:
- commence a prosecution;
- discontinue a prosecution;
- agree to a charge negotiation; or
- decline to proceed with a prosecution after a committal.
The Prosecution Policy also provides that the CDPP will comply with its Victims of Crime Policy in its dealings with victims.
Witness Assistance Service (WAS)
The CDPP has two Witness Assistance Service officers located in the Sydney Office. These officers are a national resource providing assistance to witnesses and victims of Commonwealth crime. This year the CDPP reviewed and re-issued the WAS Referral Guidelines as a National Legal Direction.
In human trafficking matters the Commonwealth has established the Support for Victims of People Trafficking Programme coordinated by the Office for Women. In relation to participating in the court process the CDPP has engaged appropriate support services when required.
Section 21B of the Crimes Act 1914 provides that, in addition to any penalty imposed, a court may order a federal offender to make reparation to any person, by way of money payment or otherwise, for any loss suffered or any expense incurred by reason of the offence.
Victim Impact Statements
The general sentencing principles contained in section 16A(2) of the Crimes Act 1914 provide that in addition to any other matters, the court must take into account where relevant and known to the court, the personal circumstances of any victim of the offence, as well as any injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence and any victim impact statement for the victim. The CDPP is responsible for presenting this material to the court.