Advanced Search

Public Consultations

We want to hear your views about our prosecution policy and so we conduct consultations to help inform our policy making.

Find out about current consultations and read the results of past consultations

Support for Victims and Witnesses

Being a victim or a witness to a crime is not easy, but, with your help, we work hard to bring offenders to justice. Throughout the justice process we will support you and treat you with dignity.

The aim of witness care units is to provide a single point of contact for Victims and Witnesses, minimising the stress of attending court and keeping  victims and witnesses up to date with any news in a way that is convenient to them.

Witnesses are essential to successful prosecutions and we are committed to making the process as straightforward as we can.

Read the fact sheet about witness care units

Find out more about being a witness

DPP launches public consultation on prosecuting cases involving victims and witnesses experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities

12/12/2008

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, today asked for the public to contribute to a consultation on the Crown Prosecution Service's new policy on prosecuting criminal cases involving victims and witnesses experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities.

Launching the consultation, Mr Starmer said: "Over the next 12 weeks, we will be asking people experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities and their carers and support organisations, as well as the criminal justice agencies and the general public, for their responses to the draft policy.

"We will then publish the policy as soon as possible thereafter. This will form the basis of how our prosecutors treat these cases in future.

"We want victims and witnesses experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities, their families, communities and the general public to be confident that the CPS understands the serious nature of crimes against them.

"Every person has an equal right to be protected by the criminal law and by the criminal justice agencies. Stopping crimes against people experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities and bringing perpetrators to justice must therefore be a priority for our society and for the CPS."

The draft policy will set out how the CPS will deal with cases that involve people experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities. It will include:

  • The role of the CPS in cases involving people experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities
  • Making decisions about which cases go to court
  • Credibility and reliability of victims and witnesses
  • Support for victims and witnesses
  • Helping victims and witnesses to give their best evidence
  • The link with disability hate crime
  • Cases where the victim withdraws support or no longer wants to give evidence and
  • Recording crimes against people experiencing mental distress and/or with learning disabilities

At the same time, the CPS is publishing the results of research that was carried out within the Service to explore CPS decision-making in cases that involved victims and key witnesses experiencing mental distress and those with learning disabilities.

The main findings of this research showed that the CPS' work in the sample of cases was generally good, but it recommended further steps to take, including more information gathering about victims' and witnesses' mental health or learning disability status during the charging decision, better liaison with the police, more training for prosecutors and improved knowledge of and contact with local groups.

Mr Starmer added: "The research that we carried out will be useful to prosecutors dealing with cases like this, and has helped us to formulate the draft policy that we are putting before the public today."

The draft policy and the research are both available on the CPS website at www.cps.gov.uk/consultations

Ends

  1. For more information, please call CPS press office on 020 7796 8079
  2. Out of hours pager: 07699 781926
  3. The consultation period runs for 12 weeks, from December 12 2008 until March 6 2009
  4. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  5. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008. Further information can be found on the CPS website
  6. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. The Protocol is published on our website at: