Top prosecutor urges people to have their say in national consultation on giving evidence in court

09/02/2015

The CPS is consulting on providing greater assistance to victims giving evidence at court, to ensure that victims are properly assisted for the trial process at court The proposals are subject to an eight week public consultation which concludes in early March.

Martin Goldman, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, and CPS national lead on victims, said: "Last year, CPS Yorkshire and Humberside prosecuted over 64,000 cases with an impressive conviction rate of 86%. But behind these figures are thousands of ordinary individuals caught up in the prosecution of  crime. We must never forget that almost all of these cases involved a real victim, an innocent witness - someone who saw what happened, whose evidence was crucial in ensuring that criminals were brought to justice. It might be you or someone you know who finds themselves thrust into the criminal justice system. Perhaps you have witnessed an assault at some point - were you asked to go to court?

"Coming to court can be a daunting experience and so it is one the CPS wants to change for the better as our cases rely on you. Cross examination and attempting to cast doubt on the prosecution's case is an important part of a fair trial, but this approach, without being updated, risks leaving victims and witnesses feeling further victimised in court. Our proposals recognise that we may have been over-cautious of being accused of coaching witnesses - telling them what to say. The proposals recognise that  we are perfectly capable of helping someone to know what to expect without coaching them. To leave someone to fend for themselves entirely is cold and unfair.

"For example, under our plans, in a rape case, a complainant may be told if the likely defence was to be, for example, on the issue of consent or identity. Our proposals maintain the right to a fair trial, of course. I know how important that is when a defendant's reputation and liberty is at stake. But what we want to do is make the system fairer for those who come to court to give evidence. Your views on this matter, so please tell us what you think by responding to our consultation on this website."

You can find the consultation on the CPS website.