Back in October last year we covered witness statements. But, what we didn’t cover was victim personal statements (VPS).
A VPS is usually added at the end of a witness statement or it can be a statement all of its own created at a later date, closer to the court date or sentencing if the offender is pleading guilty.
Where the witness statement is a statement of fact. The points of the event the witness saw and heard, smelled, touched etc. The VPS is nothing to do with the case or what happened. The VPS is about the IMPACT the incident had on the victim. It’s a chance for your victim to be heard, to have their say and to tell the court how they have been affected by the crime.
If you record a VPS at the time of your witness statement but a few months down the line realise that you are more affected, you can even write another VPS and include that as well. Both of them are relevant.
It forms part of the prosecution case but will only be taken into account once the offender has been found guilty or pleads guilty and is taken into account by the sentencing judge or magistrates. Though it doesn’t affect the nature of the sentence, it does help the judge make an informed decision.
It is shared with the defence. Everything is shared with the defence. Only in the rarest of circumstances is something not shared, you’re talking about National security type stuff.
The VPS can include things like, but not restricted to;
- An inability to sleep at night.
- Afraid to go out of the house.
- Afraid to be around groups of people.
- Constantly running the incident through their head.
- Having nightmares.
- Not eating.
- Studies are slipping.
- Taking time off work.
The victim also has the right to read the VPS out at court, though personal experience has shown me that this is rarely a choice that is taken. The choice is still there though. It would be read out at the sentencing date.
Victim Personal Statements can also be made and presented to parole boards who are considering releasing prisoners. The VPS will help in the decision-making process and will also help the board set appropriate licence conditions.
The VPS is written on the statement paper you write a witness statement on. If you are doing a visually recorded interview then you make a verbal break saying the interview has stopped and then go into the VPS part, delineating between the two.
Rebecca Bradley is a retired UK police detective with over 15 years UK policing experience. Seven of those years were in uniform and the rest in a specialist investigative department where She handled multiple, serious and complex investigations. She is now a crime writer and offers a police procedural fact-checking service, available to all crime writers setting their work in England or Wales.
Please see THIS POST for further details.
Join my Writing Crime group. If you sign up to the group you will receive a police MG11 statement (a genuine statement paper – I found online) which I have written a statement on, using an incident that occurs at the end of my novella, Three Weeks Dead. So, it’s a genuine statement, authentically written by an ex-detective.
What else will you receive in this group?
Every month I will send you, either;
- Another document I have completed.
- A link to an online document I know will help you.
- Another police document that forms part of a police investigation.
All of these can be printed out and kept in a folder and your folder will grow with policing information that you, as writers, can use, or ignore, as you wish. It is fiction, but having the information means you can make an informed decision.
If you want to be a part of this group and to claim your first item (the completed statement) then go HERE.