Eligibility for special measures

Under the Code of Practice for Victims a vulnerable or intimidated witness is entitled to special measures. Vulnerable or intimidated witnesses are defined as 'those under 18 years of age at the time of the offence, or those whose evidence is likely to be affected because they suffer from a mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983; they otherwise have a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or they have a physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder' (paragraph 1.10, Victims' Code).

There are two other types of victim/witness that are entitled to an enhanced service:

  • Victims of the most serious crime: domestic violence, hate crime, terrorism, sexual offences, human trafficking, attempted murder, kidnap, false imprisonment, arson with intent to endanger life, wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent (s.18) and close relatives bereaved by criminal conduct.
  • Victims who a persistently targeted those who are targeted or are victims of a sustained campaign of harassment or stalking.

All 3 categories are designed to ensure that victims who are in greatest need will be able to access enhanced support.

Special Measures

Live linkOur prosecutors can apply to the court for special measures in cases where the victim is deemed to be vulnerable or intimidated and in other serious cases (please see the panel on the right).

These measures can include giving evidence from behind screens and via a live video link and exist to relieve stress and make you feel more comfortable and in a safe environment.

We will seek to identify the need for these measures at the earliest opportunity and make applications to the court at the first court hearing. If you think you are eligible for special measures please inform your police Witness Care Officer, who will arrange for the CPS London prosecutor to make the application to the court.

With the permission of the court the following measures can be put in place:

Screens
This where a victim or witness can give their evidence from behind a screen, so both the defendant and victim will be unable to see each other.

Live link
This is where a victim or witness can give their evidence from outside the courtroom through a live stream. This could be another room within the court building or a suitable location outside the court. Young victims and witnesses are automatically entitled to give their evidence this way.

Evidence given in private 
This is where members of the public and press (except one named person to represent the press) will be removed from the courtroom whilst evidence is given. This is for cases involving sexual offences or intimidation by someone other than the defendant.

Removal of wigs and gowns
In the Crown Court, judges and barristers can be asked to remove their wigs and gowns. This is normally used in youth court cases in order to make the witness or victim feel more comfortable.

Video Recorded interview  
This is where a video of the victim or witnesses evidence is submitted to the court in advance. The majority of young victims and witnesses will give their evidence through video recorded interview.

Examination through an intermediary
This is where an intermediary can be appointed by the court to assist the witness to give their evidence. The intermediary is allowed to explain questions or answers to be understood by the witness or the questioner but without changing the evidence.

For more information on special measures please visit the CPS national website.

Next page: Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)