A Victim Impact Statement is your opportunity to tell the court how the crime has personally impacted you, as a victim.
If the defendant has pleaded guilty, or been found guilty, then the judge will consider your Victim Impact Statement before the sentencing. The judge will use your statement to understand how the crime has affected your life.
In the statement, you can say how the crime has affected you physically, emotionally, financially, socially (your relationships with others), and in any other ways you have found difficult.
If the defendant is found not guilty, the judge will not be able to consider your Victim Impact Statement.
What difference does it make?
Your Victim Impact Statement can help influence the sentence that a judge gives the defendant. The judge will also consider formal reports about the defendant and sentences given in similar cases.
Most importantly, it can help empower you as it is your one formal opportunity to tell the court, and the defendant, how you’ve been affected by the crime.
Who will help me to prepare a Victim Impact Statement?
The police officer in charge of the case will. Police are available and trained to assist and support you with writing your Victim Impact Statement. If you feel unable to write a Victim Impact Statement, you can agree that police can do this for you or with you.
Your Victim Support Worker or Court Victims Advisor can also help you to prepare or make your Victim impact Statement.
For more detailed guidelines on preparing your statement see:
When do I need to submit my Victim Impact Statement?
This usually happens when criminal charges are being filed with the court, but before the defendant’s first court appearance (where possible). The police officer in charge of the case will definitely make sure it’s completed by the second appearance of the defendant in court, as this is when the defendant may enter a plea.
As the case progresses through court, you can make changes to your Victim Impact Statement to keep it up-to-date. The police prosecuting lawyer can organise this for you with the officer in charge of the case.
Do I have to make one?
No. It is your choice. The judge will still consider the effects of the crime on you, but they will only be able to base this on the information that’s been provided in the case’s evidence.
Can I say what I want?
Yes, but if you include information that falls outside the purpose of a Victim Impact Statement, the police officer in charge of the case will explain this and guide you on how to change it so it can be submitted to public court. If you choose not to make the needed changes, the police will inform you if the unsuitable sections have been removed.
How is it presented in a court?
A Victim Impact Statement is usually presented to the court in writing and you can get help to write this. (see above)
A judge will almost always allow a victim of a serious crime to have their Victim Impact Statement read out in court. If the judge says you can, you can also choose to read your statement out to the court, or you could ask someone else to read it out for you.
Your Victim Support Worker, Court Victim Advisor, or the police officer in charge of your case can all help you to make your Victim Impact Statement.
Does the defendant get to hear what I say?
Victim Impact Statements in the Youth Justice system
If the defendant is a young person, the impact of the crime on a victim is presented differently. The Youth Justice Family Group Conferences (YJFGC) section of our website has more information on how this happens.
When the case is over
When a court case ends, your Victim Impact Statement becomes part of the official court file. Any member of the public or a journalist can ask to read a court file, although the court might not always allow it. If media are present in court, they may report what you say.
If the judge speaks about your Victim Impact Statement at the sentencing hearing, then their comments can made available to media to report on. Newspapers and other media are never allowed to name sexual violence victims or child victims and defendants in their news reports.
You are welcome to talk with your Victim Support Worker about any aspect of this process
You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.