Witness Care Units
What are witness care units?
The aim of witness care units is to provide a single point of contact for victims and witnesses for information about the progress of their cases and to minimise the stress of attending court. Witnesses are essential to successful prosecutions and we are committed to making the process as straightforward as we can.
Witness Care Units are in place across England and Wales and are jointly staffed by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
How do Witness Care Units care for witnesses?
Witness Care Units manage the care of victims and witnesses from the charging of the defendant(s) through to the conclusion of a case. The service to victims and witnesses includes:
- a single point of contact for victims and witnesses;
- a full needs assessment for victims and witnesses with particular support needs, who are required to attend court, to ensure they are able to get to court and give their best evidence;
- dedicated witness care officers to guide and support individuals through the criminal justice process and to co-ordinate support and services;
- continuous review of victim and witness needs throughout the case;
- communication with victims and witnesses to inform them of the case outcome or trial result, thanking them for their contribution to the case and offering post case support from the relevant support agency.
What do witness care units have to do?
Under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, which came into force on 3 April 2006, the Witness Care Unit has a legal obligation to:
- tell you if you will be required to give evidence;
- tell you the dates of the court hearings;
- give you a copy of the 'Witness in court' leaflet or other relevant leaflet, if you are required to give evidence;
- tell you about court results and explain any sentence given within one day of receiving the outcome from the court.