Support for witnesses
Being the witness of a crime can be a distressing experience in itself, and many people feel worried about the experience of going to court as a witness. But if a defendant pleads not guilty and a trial takes place, attendance of victims and witnesses at court is vital if cases are to succeed.
Sussex Police has Witness Care Officers who are there to offer support and make the process of going to court as simple as possible. In Sussex, there are approximately 40 Witness Care Officers based within the Sussex Criminal Justice Unit at Brighton.
There is a Witness Charter in place which explains your rights.
As cases proceed through the Criminal Justice System, Witness Care Officers contact victims and witnesses to:
- explain the court process.
- update them with new court dates.
- discuss any concerns victims and witnesses may have about the process.
- offer help and support.
They will be a main point of contact for the victim or witness and will liaise with the police, courts and Crown Prosecution Service.
You may have a lot of questions about this process - the Ask The Police website holds a list of frequently asked questions about visiting court.
The Your Child Is A Witness leaflet contains information and advice about accompanying a child witness to court.
The following leaflets have been written for children and young people who may have to attend court as a witness:
You'll find information about local support services at the Safe Space Sussex website
The Help for Victims database contains the answers to a wide selection of frequently asked questions in relation to people affected by crime, for example, victims and witnesses, including information on the processes they may need to follow throughout an investigation. It offers the facility to submit a question where the relevant information cannot be found, as well as assisting in locating and contacting specialist support agencies for help.
Before and during the trial you can get free help and support from the Citizens Advice witness service, which is separate from the police, the Witness Care Unit and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The gov.uk Court & Tribunal Finder lists addresses and contact details of the courts.