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What to expect of the Criminal Justice process

Criminal Justice Overview

After you have reported your crime, the Police will decide whether they can investigate. This decision is made on the basis of available evidence and circumstances of the case.

If they choose to investigate, they will start by gathering evidence – the Officer in your case will contact you to ask you to make a detailed statement and will be in contact for further information if necessary.

They may also ask you to provide additional evidence such as photos or CCTV, depending on the crime. If you think you have important information for the investigation, always discuss with the Officer in your case.

You can agree with the Officer how often and the means by which you would like to be contacted with updates – you can also contact them for information at any time through 101. Whatever the outcome, the Officer will always update you when the investigation has come to a close.

If a suspect is caught, the Officer will update you within 5 working days to let you know whether they have been:

  • Arrested
  • Charged
  • Released without charge
  • Released under investigation (with no bail conditions)
  • Released on bail
  • Given a caution

If you are entitled to an enhanced service (because you are a vulnerable victim) the Officer will notify you within 1 working day of this outcome.

For further information see the Nottinghamshire Police website

Once the Police have finished their investigation, if the suspect has been charged, they might pass the information to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and they or the Police might decide to take the case to court.

If the case has been taken to court, the first court appearance will be for the Suspect to say whether they are ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty’ – if they say ‘Guilty’ they won’t go to trial, as they will be sentenced at that point.

If they say ‘Not Guilty’ the case will proceed to trial. The Witness Care Unit will now become your main point of contact for updates on trial dates and whether you need to attend court as a witness.

At this point, you can also be referred to the Witness Service (provided by Citizens Advice). This is a free service for those attending court, to make sure you feel supported and comfortable throughout the process. You can also self refer to te Witness Service via this form.

Before going to court, it’s important that you speak to the Witness Care Unit or the Officer in your case to discuss if you require ‘Special Measures’ – these are measures put in place if you are an vulnerable witness, to enable you to give the best evidence possible, and might involve:

  • putting screens or curtains around you in the courtroom so you can’t see the suspect
  • giving evidence by live video link, so you don’t have to sit in the courtroom
  • having your statement recorded on video to be played to the courtroom
  • asking the public to leave the courtroom while you give evidence
  • getting specialist help to understand questions and communicate answers through Registered Intermediaries

It is important to note that not everyone is automatically entitled to these measures. You are only entitled to ask for these if you are vulnerable, intimidated or under 18.

When the trial is completed, the Witness Care Unit will inform you of the outcome of the trial and sentencing within 1 working day of them being informed by the court. If you have questions about the sentencing, the Witness Care Unit should be able to direct you to the CPS for answer.