Major investigation and public protection

Victim and witness care and support

Victim and witness care and support should be considered from an early stage in an investigation. This will help to build victim confidence in the criminal justice system and willingness to support the investigation and prosecution. It will also facilitate applying for special measures.

Investigators should consider:

Victims should be kept informed at all stages of the investigation. In particular, they should be told if and when a suspect is released under investigation (RUI), charged and/or released on bail.

Investigators should continue to review the victim’s needs throughout the investigation as the victim’s outlook and reaction may change over time, including their attitude towards necessary support.

Risk management

A risk assessment should not be done in isolation, it should be accompanied by appropriate risk-management interventions with regular needs assessments as the investigation progresses or the victim’s needs change.

Interventions will depend on the circumstances and the particular environment in which the hate crime is occurring. They may include:

  • issue of personal attack alarms
  • issue of evidence capturing devices
  • use of local CCTV
  • issue of mobile telephones
  • introducing or maximising neighbourhood watch schemes
  • rehousing victims
  • obtaining civil injunctions, community protection orders (CPO) or criminal behaviour orders against offenders.

Arresting suspects, where there is evidence to justify doing so, can be the most effective way to manage risk and prevent repeat incidents. Where suspects are released on pre-charge bail, conditions can be used to manage risk.

In addition to repeat victims, there may be other reoccurring factors in hate crimes, such as specific location. Early identification of trends and effective problem-solving should help to prevent future victims from being targeted.

The level of risk should be monitored and subject to regular reviews, with interventions that adapt to the prevailing situation, provide reassurance and reduce the likelihood of further victimisation. A record of this risk assessment should be kept to ensure openness and accountability.

An appropriate tool to understand and respond to risk is the RARA model.

R Remove the risk: by arresting the suspect and obtaining a remand in custody.
A Avoid the risk: by rehousing the victim and/or significant witnesses or placing them in a refuge or shelter in a location unknown to suspect.
R Reduce the risk: by joint intervention or victim safety planning, target hardening and use of protective legislation.
A Accept and manage the risk: by continued reference to the RARA model, continual multi-agency intervention planning, support and consent of the victim, and offender targeting within proactive assessment and tasking pro forma and multi-agency public protection panel format.

See also Partnership working.

Witness intimidation

If there is reason to believe that witness intimidation may occur in a specific case, proactive steps should be taken to protect the witness(es). This may include:

  • home and mobile alarms
  • mobile 999 telephone
  • surveyed and enhanced home security
  • measures to capture evidence of intimidation
  • provision of escorts
  • targeting of suspects
  • special measures.

The witness should understand what action to take, and whom to contact 24 hours a day. These measures should be discussed at an early meeting between the police and the CPS.

Note: victims and witnesses of hate crimes are more likely to feel vulnerable or intimidated because of the type of offending against them. In addition to the legal meaning of witness intimidation, the witness’s feelings towards the criminal justice process should also be taken into account. The prospect of giving evidence can be intimidating in itself. It is important that the witness is made to feel as comfortable as possible with the process. See Witness care units.

Page last accessed 02 December 2020