Victims and witnesses

Victims and witnesses are crucial to the criminal justice process. The criminal justice system relies heavily on the willingness of prosecution witnesses to give evidence in court enabling offenders to be brought to justice. Without witnesses being prepared to give evidence in court all too often cases have to be abandoned, emeaning defendants avoid a trial and justice is not served.

Appearing in court can be a daunting experience. That is why the Crown Proscution Service (CPS) and our colleagues across the criminal justice system provide a range of measures to support victims and witnessess to help them give evidence at court. Click on the links on the right of the page to find out more.

Witness Care Unit

Witness Care Units (WCU) ensure that victims and witnesses are informed and supported throughout the court process. if you are invoveld in a case you will be allocated a Witness Care Officer (WCO) to help you through the sometimes difficult process of giving evidence in court. They can help you by:

  • Identifying any requirements that you might have so that you can attend court, such as childcare arrangements, disabilities, an interpreter or transportation. This is called a 'needs assessment'.
  • Asking you for any inconvenient dates when you cannot attend court, such as hospital appointments or a pre-booked holiday.
  • Updating you on the progress of the case and will explain how the criminal justice process works.
  • Arranging for you to have a familiarisation visit at court with someone from the Witness Service before the trial.
  • Offering support and reassurance with your general anxieties and concerns about the case and what to expect when you get to court.
  • Your WCO can refer you to Victim Support or other organisations if you require more specialist support. 
  • At the end of the case, your WCO will tell you the result and explain any sentence. They will thank you for your assistance with the case and offer you further support if you need it.

Victims' Liaison Unit

Sometimes, the prosecution  decides to discontinue a case or substantially alter a charge.

When this happens, we will tell victims or their families what we have done and why.

In some of the more serious cases, we will offer to meet the victim or their family to explain our decision.

Our Victims' Liaison Unit handles all of these communications, as well as complaints and the Victims' Right to Review scheme.

This scheme allows victims to ask for a review of a decision to discontinue proceedings or offer no evidence in a case.

Details of how to request such a review can be found on the main CPS website.

Please note that the Victims Right to Review scheme applies only to qualifying decisions made on or after 5 June 2013.

If you'd like more information on a case, have a complaint, a general enquiry or would like to know more about the Victims' Right to Review scheme, email