If you are a victim of crime, what can you expect from the UK authorities?
The same rights as a British citizen! In UK, there is no differentiation between legal immigrants and illegal aliens. Everyone has the right to full protection from the authorities. This post will outline for you the action points in case someone you know is subjected to violence in the UK. Keep it handy!
As a victim of crime, the first port of call would be a formal complaint to the police, which can be achieved either over the telephone or by attending the local police station.
In case of an emergency, one should dial ‘999’ which connects you immediately to the emergency services who are required to attend your call within 10 seconds. To report non emergency minor crimes, call ‘101’ so that people in genuine emergency can reach police quickly through ‘999’. One also has the option of reporting crime anonymously by calling Crimestoppers who record your information and pass it to the police so that it can be used to solve the crime without you being bothered any further.
Additionally, victims are entitled to get help from police officers, witness care officers, court staff and probation officers. Victim can expect regular updates (at least once a month) from the police about their case, be told when the offender is arrested, charged, bailed and sentenced, has the right to apply for extra help when giving evidence in court (called ‘special measures’) if they are vulnerable or intimidated, has the right to be told when an offender will be released, and has the right to be referred to Victim Support.
The police has the power to stop, question and search the suspect – depending on the situation. If necessary, they also have the power to arrest the suspect if they have the reasonable belief that the suspect has committed a crime or is carrying illegal drugs, weapon, stolen property, or something that could be used to commit a crime. The suspect can be stopped and searched by police without any reasonable ground if the police thinks that serious violence could take place or the suspect was carrying a weapon or had used one.
Before the suspect is searched, it is the duty of the police officer to inform the suspect their name and police station, what they expect to find, the reason they want to search the suspect, why they are legally allowed to search the suspect, and that the suspect can have a record of the search.
Normally, the police cannot enter a private property without the owner’s permission, unless they’re chasing someone who’s committed a serious crime, they’re stopping serious damage to the property, they hear a ‘cry for help’ of someone in distress, or they have permission to enter the property from a court.
Before the arrest, the police must identify themselves as the police, inform the suspect about their arrest and what crime they are being arrested for, explain why it’s necessary to arrest the suspect and also explain to the suspect that they’re not free to leave the police station. If the suspect tries to escape or become violent, the police has the power to use ‘reasonable force’.
Suspects, after being arrested have the right to get free legal advice, inform someone about his current whereabouts, have medical help if needed, know about the ‘Codes of Practice’ that the police must follow and also know about the written notice informing the suspects about their rights. The suspect has the right to make a complaint of the believe that the police has not behaved professionally at all times while the suspect was in the custody.
One cannot be held in police station without the charge being framed against him for more than 24 hours unless the suspect is alleged to have committed a serious crime, in which case, the period of custody can be extended up to 36 hours by police superintendent or up to 96 hours by the court.
If the police is able to establish that the suspect is involved in the crime, then a formal criminal charge is filed against him. Thereafter, the suspect would either be granted a bail by the police with or without conditions or alternatively be refused a bail and be produced from custody before the next available court.
Thus, whether an immigrant is a victim of a crime or a suspect of a crime in UK, the law keeps him on the equal footing as that of the UK citizen and he has the same rights that have been granted to the UK citizen.
But one might wonder if in practice, the illegal immigrants would come forward to report the crime as they have the threat of being deported. Unfortunately UK, does not have any law or policy that ‘legalises’ the status of illegal migrants who have been victims of crime. Interestingly, U.S. has a policy of “U visa” which basically provides a visa as a reward for coming out and reporting the crime. This will make his stay in the States legal and this is a very good way of getting the illegal aliens out of their shell to report the violent crimes. This was suspended between the years 2000 and 2007 though.
Many commentators recommend that UK should follow US’s “U” visa policy as well.
*Research and Editing by Rishika Lekhadia, 2nd Year, W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences with inputs from Sandeep Kainth, immigration lawyer in the UK.