ATP Template with bundler

Witnesses


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

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

Victim Support is an independent charity who provide free, confidential help and support to people affected by crime or traumatic events. You do not have to report a crime to the police to be referred to Victim Support, anyone can contact them directly for help. Trained staff and volunteers provide a wide range of specialist services such as practical and emotional support, and can help people affected by all types of crime. The services extend not only to the victim but also to their friends, family and witnesses. See the links in Related Information for details.

If you are a witness in a case that is being investigated by the police, you will be put in contact with a Witness Care Unit, and a member of staff will be assigned as your single point of contact. This person will answer any questions you may have and can ensure special measures are put in place if you are deemed to be a vulnerable witness. See Q198 for further information.

Witness entitlements are governed by the Witness Charter, this sets out what information and support witnesses should expect from the criminal justice agencies, including the police, Crown Prosecution Service and the courts. Details can be found in Related Information.

Contact your local police force

Enter your town or postcode to see information from your local force

If you can't find the answer?

Submit A Question