Who's who in the criminal justice system?
If you report a crime to the police, you may also come into contact with other partner agencies working together as part of the criminal justice system. From tackling crime through to courts, sentencing, and probation - find out who's responsible for what.
Remember - if you've been a victim of crime, you're entitled to receive help and support, even if you choose not to report the crime to police.
The police are there to help keep us safe. They work with local communities and partner agencies to reduce crime, support victims and bring offenders to justice.
You should contact the police if you want to report a crime or an incident that you think the police can help you with.
If you are a victim of crime, but do not feel comfortable contacting the police, you can still get support to help you cope with what's happened. There are also ways to report crime without speaking to the police.
Contacting the police
In an emergency: dial 999
An emergency is when a crime is being committed or has just been witnessed, there is a risk of injury, or a risk of serious damage to property.
In a non-emergency: dial 101
Use this number to report a non-emergency incident or make a general inquiry.
Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is a charity which is entirely independent of police and never share details with police of people who have got in touch.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
The Crown Prosecution Service:
- decides whether the police have enough evidence to start legal proceedings against someone for a criminal offence
- works with the police to decide which charges someone is to face
- prepares cases and presents them to court
- provides information, help and support to victims and prosecution witnesses
Your local CPS service is the Crown Prosecution Service for the North West
Witness Care Unit
The Witness Care Unit provides a single point of contact for victims and witnesses, keeping you informed about the progress of your case and providing practical support to minimise the stress of attending court.
They will support you from the moment someone is charged for the offence, through to the conclusion of a case at court.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is responsible for overseeing the courts and tribunals system in England and Wales. It’s their job to manage and administer the environments and processes that give us access to justice. They manage the courts and support the provision of independent juries.
Citizens Advice Witness Service
The Witness Service is not the same as the witness care units. The Witness Service provides free, independent support for witnesses in criminal courts in England and Wales. Their trained volunteers provide practical and emotional support information to defence and prosecution witnesses.
Their service includes:
- Information about the court process and proceedings
- Offering a visit to court ahead of a trial
- Providing a separate waiting area to sit on the day of trial
- Keeping the witnesses updated whilst they are waiting to give evidence at court
- Someone to talk to but not about their evidence
- Someone to accompany the witness into the court or 'live video link' room when they give their evidence
- Someone to talk to after giving evidence
- Support not only on the day of trial but also at verdict and sentence.
- Helping to completing CPS expenses claims form
- Referring on to other agencies when requested to do so and consent given
- Support for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses.
Youth Offending Teams (YOTs)
Youth Offending Teams work with young people that get into trouble with the law. The teams are part of the local council and are separate from the police and the courts. They work with all the other key agencies to try helping the young people stay away from crime.
Probation services are responsible for overseeing offenders released from prison on licence, and those on community sentences.
The National Probation Service supervises high-risk offenders that are released into the community. Community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) manage low- and medium-risk offenders.
They are responsible for:
- preparing pre-sentence reports for courts, to help them select the most appropriate sentence
- managing approved premises for offenders with a residence requirement on their sentence
- assessing offenders in prison to prepare them for release on licence to the community, when they will come under our supervision
- helping all offenders serving sentences in the community to meet the requirements ordered by the courts
- communicating with and prioritising the wellbeing of victims of serious sexual and violent offences, when the offender has received a prison sentence of 12 months or more, or is detained as a mental health patient
HM Prison and Probation service
The HM Prison and Probation service (HMPPS) makes sure people serve the sentences and orders handed out by courts, both in prisons and in the community.
They are responsible for:
- the running of prison and probation services
- the rehabilitation services for prisoners leaving prison
- making sure support is available to stop people offending again
- contract managing private sector prisons and services such as the Prisoner Escort Service and electronic tagging
Contact the HM Prison and Probation service (HMPPS) Victim Helpline if you get unwanted letters, phone calls, texts or messages from a prisoner.
You can also contact the helpline if you’re worried about someone being released from prison.
HMPPS Victim Helpline
- Telephone: 0300 060 6699
- Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm
Victim Support is the independent charity for victims, survivors and witnesses of crime in England and Wales, with over 40 years’ experience of supporting and speaking up for victims.
If you have been a victim of crime, you can contact Victim Support for confidential emotional support, practical help and advice. Victim Support’s services are free and available to everyone, whether or not the crime has been reported to the police and regardless of when it happened.
- For help and support, call your local victim care team in Manchester on 0845 456 8800 or email
- You can also call the Supportline on 08 08 16 89 111.
- Find out more at: victimsupport.org.uk