Bereavement due to traumatic death

The Probation Victim Contact Scheme

If someone is convicted of murder or manslaughter a victim liaison officer should contact the bereaved relatives within eight weeks of the offender being sentenced.

The Probation Victim Contact Scheme:
  1. Updates the relatives at key stages during the offender’s sentence
  2. Tells them when the offender is likely to be released
  3. Gives bereaved relatives an opportunity to express their views if the offender is being considered for release. They may be able to attend the parole hearing to present their Victims Personal Statement
  4. Informs them of the likely supervision arrangements after offender's release
  5. Enables them to comment on the offender’s conditions of release - for example, whether the offender should be barred from contacting the family or entering a particular area.  
Some people we talked to had experience of the scheme and had met the victim liaison officer. Marcus has written to the Parole Board every year explaining why he believes that the man who killed his fiancée, Louise, should not be allowed out of prison. David wrote to the Parole Board too when the men who killed his son were eligible for parole.
Ann has also been kept informed about what is happening to the men who killed her son. The man who started the incident at the cash machine and who was convicted of manslaughter was due to be released in March 2009. Ann was upset because she thinks his sentence was too lenient and because he did not have to go before a Parole Board, so she had no opportunity to make her views known. In a few years the other offender, who was found guilty of murder and given a life sentence, will probably be eligible for parole, and when the Parole Board considers his case Ann will be able to make a fresh Victim Personal Statement but she does not think that her views will have much impact.
Julie didn't want to know what was happening to the man convicted of killing her sister.
People do not always welcome contact with a Victim Liaison Officer. After Terri’s son was murdered she received letters every year from the Probation Service. She said that she didn't really like getting the letters and she didn't want to know what the offender was doing in prison, but she mistakenly thought that the liaison officer had to send the letters.
 
Family members' views may differ. David wanted to know every detail about what was happening to the offenders in prison, but his wife did not.
 
People’s involvement in the Probation Victim Contact Scheme is entirely voluntary and people can change their minds about having contact with a victim liaison officer at any point in the offender’s sentence.

Last reviewed October 2015.

Last updated October 2011.

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