Safety and Protection
Some victims of crime may find that one of their reactions to being the victim of crime is feeling unsafe. In other situations, the person who committed the crime may present an ongoing threat to the victim of crime (for example - in situations of domestic violence). Here is a list of things that may help you to feel safe – different situations will require different actions:
- If you are are in immediate danger- call 000 now.
- If you are experiencing domestic of family violence and wish to speak to someone for immediate support - contact the Domestic Violence Crisis Service on 6280 0900. This service can also assist you to make plans for staying safe in the future.
- Find a safe place. Your safety (and that of anyone else involved) is of prime importance. This can be a police station, a parent's, friend’s or neighbour’s home, your own home, a refuge or any other place where you will feel safe.
- Find someone you trust to confide in and support you - a friend, parent, relative, a friendly police person or anyone else you want to be with (sometimes this will be someone you have never met before, for example, a victim support worker or a professional counsellor). Get in touch with that person as soon as possible, or ask someone else to do it for you, and tell them you would like their assistance and support.
- Call the police, if this has not already been done. Your support person can also do this for you.
- Make your own decisions as much as is possible – you can communicate these decisions to a support person who may act on your behalf to ensure your decisions are carried out.
- Are there practical issues that need to be taken care of? Perhaps write a list or dictate one to someone else. For example, children to be looked after, bankcards and credit cards that need to be cancelled, securing your home or changing locks, money for immediate needs or to meet future needs, or informing your insurance company of the incident.
- If you are concerned about your safety you could consider applying for a protection order.
What police can do if you report a crime to them will depend upon a number of factors like the nature of the offence, how long after the incident you are reporting, what evidence there is and whether it is within their powers to do anything. Police can:
- make a record of your allegation or problem;
- provide you with information about relevant services;
- take a formal written statement if the circumstances warrant it;
- take action and provide advice in relation to crime prevention and personal safety;
- take reasonable steps to investigate an allegation of an offence where the circumstances warrant it;
- make a decision on whether to take action and what type of action if an offence has been committed.
Police have to decide how to proceed. They must decide whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the person, and what the charge should be. They have the authority to take different kinds of action, depending on the circumstances. They decide if there is an identifiable offence and if there is sufficient evidence to charge a person in relation to that offence. Police decide whether to arrest or summons a person in relation to that offence. Police may decide to issue a caution against a person, rather than to charge. Police keep a record of the caution.
If a victim has concerns about their safety, they can speak to police about these. Police may:
- seek restrictions to a person’s bail;
- apply for a protection order in some circumstances;
- undertake certain protective actions (such as an alert) for persons or places requiring protection where the circumstances warrant it;
- provide advice, assistance and referral on crime prevention.
Police should be able to provide you with a reference number for the report you have made. If you have made a written statement, you are entitled to a copy of it.
If the offender is a juvenile, police are required by law to consider certain things. Where the offender is a juvenile there are more restrictions on a victim’s access to information.
Reporting personal crimes such as assault of sexual assault can also mean that a victim may have forensic evidence taken such as photographs. A victim may be asked to have a medical examination. Victims can ask a support person to be present at these times. This could be a worker from a service or a friend.
ACT Policing have specialist officers to assist victims and their families. If you have special needs or feel you need to talk with a specialist about what has happened, just ask.