Support for Disabled Victims and Witnesses of Crime

30/08/2017

Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England, Jenny Hopkins, has welcomed an online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of crime which was published today (25 August 2017) by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The guide, which the CPS produced with support from organisations that work with disabled people, can be found on the CPS website. It explains the types of support available and how people can access it.

Jenny Hopkins for the CPS said: "The support guide aims to remove some of the barriers disabled people can face as victims and witnesses when they come into contact with the criminal justice system.

"In the East of England we will work with disabled victims and witnesses to get the right support in place for them to give their best evidence. This might include an intermediary to help a witness with communication difficulties to better understand court proceedings; a visit to court before giving evidence, or even in some cases the opportunity to give evidence by video link from somewhere else.

"Although the number of disability hate crimes the CPS prosecutes is increasing, fewer cases are referred to the CPS than for other types of hate crimes, such as those motivated by race or religion.

"We know from our work with diverse communities, such as those represented on our Hate Crime Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panel, that the numbers of disability hate crimes being reported to the police still do not accurately reflect the levels actually experienced in the community.

"The guide explains clearly how we can work with victims and witnesses. We hope that this will encourage people who are not currently reporting crimes to be more likely to come forward.

"We would urge anyone who has experienced disability hate crime to report it and victims and witnesses can have confidence they will be supported."

ENDS

Background

The guide, called Support for Disabled Victims and Witnesses of Crime - Information and Guidance, sets out the CPS's approach to prosecuting crimes against disabled people, including what can be prosecuted as disability hate crimes.

It provides a step-by-step guide to the process of reporting a crime and prosecuting a case, including where the criminal justice system can offer support along the way.

It also shows what the CPS and its partners can do to ensure disabled people can give their evidence more easily and tells the story of actual cases where the CPS put measures in place to support disabled victims and witnesses.

Notes to Editors

  1. Jenny Hopkins is Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England which covers the counties of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.
  2. The Hate Crime Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panel (LSIP) has an important function in helping the CPS and its criminal justice partners to improve the way hate crime cases are dealt with and the services they provide to victims and witnesses. It is made up of volunteers who can pass on community concerns about crime and criminal justice to the LSIP. Members then feedback on the actions the agencies will take - or have taken - in response to those concerns. It means communities can have more of a say in what is going on and a better understanding and the CPS can learn from the Panel's feedback.
  3. The guide is available on the CPS website