WA Do Victims of Crime have to be Police Witnesses?

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12 July 2015
Quick questions:
Does a Victim of Crime have to act as a Police Witness?

My son was a customer of company who was burgled - he has got his laptop back, is he a "Victim of Crime"?

Can the Police Dept take a verbal statement (in their words) from a minor without having someone over 18 present?

Is it correct that to stop this statement being used we have to complete a Withdrawal of Complaint, even though my son has not put a Complaint in.

Is there anything I can do to prevent my son acting a witness. We are happy to help with investigations however, as we live in a small country town, I don't want my son to be involved with this, especially as the owner of the business has told me that he won't be acting as a witness as he knows of the accused and doesn't feel safe to do so. As you can tell, I am trying to ensure that my son is not put at risk.

I would be grateful for any advise on this issues.

Full Details:

My son (17 years) put his laptop into a shop for repair. The day we were meant to pick up the laptop, we got a phone call from the business to say that they had been burgled and my son's laptop was one that was stolen. We were asked if we could provide proof of purchase so that the business could do an insurance claim. I provided a photo copy of the invoice for the laptop.

A couple of days later, the business contacted and said that my son's laptop had been recovered and they had now repaired it. So, we picked up the laptop.

Now, the Police department have contacted my son to obtain a statement and to be given proof (in the form of photos) that this is his laptop. The Police officer then did a verbal statement, using her words, not my son's and asked him to go to the Police station to sign this as he may had to go to Court as a Police witness.

I spoke to the Police Officer and said that I am not happy for my son to be called as a witness and was told that he didn't have a choice as he is a "Victim of Crime". and if he doesn't appear in Court, they will issue a bench warrant for his arrest!

Tracy B

Well-Known Member
24 December 2014
Hi Alison1967,

1. A Victim of Crime is someone who was injured or suffered a loss as a direct result of a crime. It is meant to help the victim, not work against them.

2. A person can chose whether to apply for a Victim of Crime status. Doing so, and if your application is accepted, entitles the victim to compensation from the Australian/state government.

3. Victims of Crime is NOT the same thing as a witness. If the police is prosecuting a the accused for the offence, they can ask your son to act as an eye witness. Your son is generally not obliged to participate. You and your son should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If your son is scared for his welfare, there are measures available that protects your son. Contact Legal Aid WA as well as your local community legal centre.

4. The police do not need to have a parent present to take a statement from a minor. However, your son has the right to have a lawyer present. I highly recommend this. You might like to read up on dealing with the police. While this article is specific to Victoria, the rules are fairly similar across states.