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Court proceedings


Answer

If you have given a statement for a case, there is always the possibility that you will have to attend court as a witness. You will be called as a witness in most cases if you are the complainant or if the defence want to question you about the issues contained in your statement. On the back of the witness statement form it does say that if you give a statement you may be called to court. This should have been pointed out and explained to you prior to signing the statement.


Answer

If you are a witness in the case, you can:

  • contact the officer in the case
  • contact the Witness Liaison Department – (the name of this department can differ from force to force)
  • contact the court directly

If you are a defendant, you can either contact your solicitor or contact the court.

Please see the link in Related Information to find court contact details.


Answer

The only witnesses who will be called are those witnesses whose evidence cannot be agreed on between the defence and the prosecution. In the majority of cases, the officer in the case will be at the court. Victim Support can offer support and advice to victims of and witnesses to crime, see website in Related information.


Answer

Whilst it is possible that the defendant will also be outside the court room, it does not follow that you have to sit in the same area. Many courts have large communal areas and will announce each case over a tannoy so that if you wish, you can sit away from the defendant. Alternatively, speak to the court usher and tell them where you are going to be.

At most courts there will also be the Witness Service/Victim Support who will be able to provide a separate room for you if you do not want to sit in the communal area. It is perfectly understandable that you would not want to sit outside the court with the defendant in your case.

Alternatively you can contact the officer in the case who may be able to make alternative arrangements for you.

For more information please see the websites in related information.


Answer

No, if you are a witness or a complainant in a case then you do not need a solicitor. You are simply telling the court what you saw/what happened etc. The Crown Prosecution Service prosecutes the case on behalf of the police and the defendant will have a solicitor to represent him/her but you yourself do not need any legal representation.

For more information please see the websites in related information.


Answer

No, you do not need to bring anything to court other than yourself. The officer in the case or the CPS officer should have a copy of your statement (if you made one) from which you can refresh your memory.

When you arrive at court on the day, go and find the Witness Service and/or Victim Support Service and they may be able to put your mind at rest as for many people giving evidence can be a very anxious prospect.

For more information please see the websites in related information.


Answer

Yes, you can claim reasonable travel expenses and any reasonable claims for loss of earnings and if applicable, a subsistence allowance.

For more information please see the websites in related information.


Answer

Many cases are listed for trial at a Crown Court without a court room and it means the witnesses may have to wait around at the Court all day for their case to be allocated to a court room.

To be on standby at court means that you do not have to be at the court all day waiting for your case to be allocated a court room. If agreed, you may be able to stay at work/home until your case is ready to be heard. Although you must not be too far away and must be contactable by phone and ready to go the court straight away if necessary.

You would need to check with the Witness Liaison department (the name of this department may vary from force to force) as to whether you could be placed on standby. If you are contactable by phone and not too far away from the court then there should be no reason why you could not be placed on standby.

Standby is becoming a more popular option as many witnesses work and cannot take the time off work to sit and wait all day at court.

For more information please see the websites in related information.


Answer

Yes. If you are a witness, you can are entitled to have an interpreter present. If you receive a letter notifying you to attend court, it should contain a section about interpreters and other special requirements. If you did not receive a letter contact the Witness Care Unit who will be able to arrange an interpreter for you.

If you are a defendant and you had an interpreter during your police interview, the police will inform the court that you need an interpreter. If you did not have an interpreter during the police interview but feel that you need one for the court appearances, you should inform your solicitor who will in turn notify the court.


Answer

Yes. Most courts will have a Witness Service and if you contact them in advance of the case they can arrange for you to look at a courtroom. It probably will not be exactly the same courtroom that you will have to give evidence in, but they are all very similar.

Visiting the court beforehand does help some people feel less intimidated about giving evidence. Knowing where everyone sits in the court room and who they all are may help put you at ease.

A link to the Witness Service referral form can be found in the Related Information.


Answer

Yes you can. Witness Care Units have been set up nationally. Each unit will have Witness Care Officers who will keep witnesses informed of how the case is progressing.

It may take a few weeks before the defendant is sentenced (if found/pleaded guilty) because often the Probation Service (and other bodies) are required to do a pre-sentence report which gives the court some advice on the sentencing.

For more information please see the websites in Related Information.


Answer

It is the discretion of the court as to whether it awards compensation. If the offender is given a custodial sentence then it is unlikely that you will receive any compensation. A compensation form should be sent out to you before the court proceedings.

If you were the victim of a violent crime then you may be eligible for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), 0300 003 3601. However, please note if you have not co-operated with the police during the course of the investigation it is unlikely that you will receive any compensation from the CICA.


Answer

If you are a witness and you do not go to court, a number of things could happen.

Firstly, the case could be thrown out of court. Secondly, the court could adjourn the proceedings so that a witness summons can be served on you. If you then fail to attend the next hearing after a witness summons has been served then you could be arrested.

If you have any fears or concerns about attending court it would be best if you contacted your local Witness Care Unit.


Answer

There are a number of measures that can be used for any vulnerable or intimidated witness. Some people automatically assume vulnerable status within the court process:
 
  • All child witnesses under 18 at time of giving evidence;
  • Any person suffering from a mental disorder;
  • Any person suffering from a learning disability;
  • Any person who is physically disabled;
  • Any witness whose evidence is likely to be diminished through fear or distress.

The police have the responsibility of notifying the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at the earliest possible stage of any measures that may be required. The CPS will then make an application to the Court for a Special Measure Direction and the Court will decide if the measures will help the witness to give their 'best evidence'.
 
Special measures include:
 
  • Screening the witness from the accused;
  • Giving evidence through a live link;
  • Giving evidence in private;
  • Removal of wigs and gowns;
  • Use of communication aids;
  • Video recording of interview used as evidence;
  • Examination of the witness through a third party.

You will not be prevented from being seen by the Judge or Justices, jury (if there is one), legal representatives, interpreter or other persons appointed to assist the witness. For further help and information please see the websites in Related Information.


Answer

When you first arrive at court, you will need to go through security, this applies to everyone who enters a court or tribunal building. Please see the link in Related Information for items you are not allowed to take in.

Once you have passed through security the best thing to do is to find the Witness Service desk or office. They have a list of all witnesses due at court on that day. They will be able to tell you which courtroom to attend, where the canteen is and where you might find the officer in the case. The reception at the court will also be able to tell you where to find details of the courtroom.

For more information please see the websites in Related Information.


Answer

Although it was not you that has been stopped by the police, you must still go to court. This is to make a statutory declaration (a sworn statement) to that effect. The court will then adjourn the matter back to the police who will need to make further enquiries.

It is important that you attend court otherwise a warrant will be issued. If you cannot make it on the day in question, contact the court to advise them.


Answer

If you have missed a court date then a warrant will be issued for your arrest. It is advisable to go to your local police station or Magistrates Court as soon as possible to hand yourself in.


Answer

If you are a defendant it is always advisable to seek legal advice. If you do not have a solicitor there will always be a duty solicitor in most Magistrates Courts.
 
If you are appearing at Crown Court then it is likely that you will already have a solicitor and a barrister representing you.

If you are appearing as a witness at either a Magistrates or a Crown Court, then you do not need a solicitor.


Answer

Yes, if the verdict was given in open court you can find out the result of a case in Magistrates and Crown courts. There may be time limits when the courts are able to pass this information on due to practical issues, i.e. if you make contact 6 months after a court date, it may not be practicable to look that far back for the result.

The procedure may differ for high profile cases and there will be stricter restrictions on cases involving juveniles or cases involving sexual offences.

If you wish to find out a court case result you will need to contact the relevant court directly.

Please see the website in Related Information to find the relevant court contact details.


Answer

Whilst there is no legal requirement to give a witness statement to the police, there is a moral duty on each of us to help the police with their enquiries.

If you have given a statement to the police, there is a possibility that you may have to attend court as a witness, this should be explained to you by the person taking your statement and is also explained on the witness statement, which you should read prior to signing. 

For many, the prospect of giving a statement and possibly appearing in court can be daunting. However, the police and courts have procedures in place to help and support witnesses. Please see the links in Related Information for more details.

 


Answer

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in England and Wales sets out the services that a victim of crime can expect to receive throughout the criminal justice process in England and Wales. It lists the organisations that must provide those services to the victim and sets a minimum standard for these services.

The full Code can be accessed via the relevant link in the Related Information section. However please find a summary of the Code below:

Right 1 - To be able to understand and to be understood

You have the Right to be given information in a way that is easy to understand and to be provided with help to be understood, including, where necessary, access to interpretation and translation services.

Right 2 - To have the details of the crime recorded without unjustified delay

You have the Right to have details of the crime recorded by the police as soon as possible after the incident. If you are required to provide a witness statement or be interviewed, you have the Right to be provided with additional support to assist you through this process.

Right 3 - To be provided with information when reporting the crime

You have the Right to receive written confirmation when reporting a crime, to be provided with information about the criminal justice process and to be told about programmes or services for victims. This might include services where you can meet with the suspect or offender, which is known as Restorative Justice.

Right 4 - To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs

You have the Right to be referred to services that support victims, which includes the Right to contact them directly, and to have your needs assessed so services and support can be tailored to meet your needs. If eligible, you have the Right to
be offered a referral to specialist support services and to be told about additional support available at court, for example special measures.

Right 5 - To be provided with information about compensation

Where eligible, you have the Right to be told about how to claim compensation for any loss, damage or injury caused as a result of crime.

Right 6 - To be provided with information about the investigation and prosecution

You have the Right to be provided with updates on your case and to be told when important decisions are taken. You also have the Right, at certain stages of the justice process, to ask for decisions to be looked at again by the relevant service provider.

Right 7 - To make a Victim Personal Statement

You have the Right to make a Victim Personal Statement, which tells the court how the crime has affected you and is considered when sentencing the offender. You will be given information about the process.

Right 8 - To be given information about the trial, trial process and your role as a witness

If your case goes to court, you have the Right to be told the time, date and location of any hearing and the outcome of those hearings in a timely way. If you are required to give evidence, you have the Right to be offered appropriate help before the trial and, where possible, if the court allows, to meet with the prosecutor before giving evidence.

Right 9 - To be given information about the outcome of the case and any appeals

You have the Right to be told the outcome of the case and, if the defendant is convicted, to be given an explanation of the sentence. If the offender appeals against their conviction or sentence, you have the Right to be told about the
appeal and its outcome.

Right 10 - To be paid expenses and have property returned

If you are required to attend court and give evidence, you have the Right to claim certain expenses. If any of your property was taken as evidence, you have the Right to get it back as soon as possible.

Right 11 - To be given information about the offender following a conviction

Where eligible, you have the Right to be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme, which will provide you with information about the offender and their progress in prison, and if/when they become eligible for consideration of parole or release. Where applicable, you also have the Right to make a new Victim Personal Statement, in which you can say how the crime continues to affect you.

Right 12 - To make a complaint about your Rights not being met

If you believe that you have not received your Rights, you have the Right to make a complaint to the relevant service provider. If you remain unhappy, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The police's responsibilities to a victim of crime are as follows -

A victim is classed as a person who is -

  • a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by a criminal offence;
  • a close relative (or a nominated family spokesperson) of a person whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence;
  • 'businesses' are not included in this definition (see Note 2 on Page 3 of the Code for more information on this).

As a victim of crime you are entitled to receive the following from the police -

  • if the crime is finalised at source (not investigated) then the victim must be notified of this within 5 working days (1 working day under Enhanced Rights – see page 10 of the Code);
  • must supply the victim with written information on what to expect from the criminal justice system as soon as possible, and not later than 5 working days after reporting the crime;
  • must inform Victim Support services of the victims' details within 2 working days of the crime report (unless the victim asks them not to do so);
  • If the case goes to court the police must inform victims of the date, time and location of the first court hearing;
  • inform victims within 5 working days of receipt from the court, if an arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect who failed to attend court and the outcome of a hearing if the suspect is re-arrested;
 
You are entitled to be informed by the police of the following information and to have the reasons explained to you within 5 working days of a suspect being:
 arrested;
  •  being issued an out of court disposal
  •  interviewed under caution;
  •  released without charge;
  •  released on police bail, or if police bail conditions are changed or cancelled.
 
Informing the victim can include by letter, telephone, personal visit, fax, text message or email.

Vulnerable victims

Vulnerable victims are provided with an enhanced service. You may be classed as vulnerable if -

  • you are under 18 years of age at the time of the offence or
  • the quality of your evidence is likely to be affected because:

(i) you suffer from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983;
(ii) you otherwise have a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or
(iii) you have a physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder

Vulnerable victims must be informed within 1 working day if a suspect has been arrested or a warrant has been issued due to the suspects failure to attend at court.


Answer

The standard requirement for interpreters in Criminal proceedings is that those working in courts and police stations should be registered with one of the recommended registers i.e. the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) for non-English spoken languages, or with the National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD) for communicating with deaf and deafblind people.
 
For more information on qualifications needed to become an interpreter see Related Information 


Answer

The Prison Service have a prisoner location service that may be able to assist you. Your details will be passed to the prisoner and if they consent then their whereabouts will be disclosed to you. See the link in related information for more details on how to do this.

Contact your local police force

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