When you’re asked to attend court to provide evidence as the witness of a crime, you have every right to expect a certain level of service from the Criminal Justice System.
You can find out your rights in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. This tells you what you can expect from the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and the criminal justice agency.
The standard of care you should receive as a witness includes:
- being treated with dignity and respect;
- being given a main point of contact who provides support and keeps you up-to-date on the case progress;
- the option to claim expenses for travel to and from court;
- compensation for loss of earnings while attending court;
- a needs assessment to identify the support you might need while giving evidence;
- special measures if you are considered to be an intimidated or vulnerable witness; and
- being provided with information about the court process and the court itself.
It’s important to note that there’s no legal requirement when it comes to meeting the standard for witness care, but all agencies that are covered by the Witness Charter should comply wherever possible.
Victim Care Service can help you with all aspects of being witness to a crime. Our team will provide the practical and emotional support you need, for as long as required.
Need to make a complaint?
If you’re unhappy with the level of service you receive as a witness, you can complain to the agency directly.
If you’re not happy with the response to your complaint, you can refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman via your local MP.
If you have sent your initial complaint to the wrong organisation (for example, you may complain about a member of staff in court to the Crown Prosecution Service by mistake), the organisation will send your complaint on to the correct agency for you.
The complaints can be about any of the organisations that have been involved in your case, including:
- Crown Prosecution Service;
- HM Courts and Tribunal Services;
- Youth Offending Teams; and
- Probation Service.
The Witness Service
The Witness Service delivered by Citizens Advice is a free, vital service that delivers independent support to witnesses of crime in every criminal court across England and Wales.
The Witness Service provides free, independent support for both prosecution and defence witnesses, and has trained volunteers who provide practical guidance on the process. They also supply emotional support to help witnesses feel more confident when giving evidence.