Victims' Guide - What you need to do before the trial
You have the right under the Victims’ Code to be provided with information about the trial, the trial process and your role as a witness.
The police will keep you up to date with how the case is progressing and you can ask them for an update at any stage. They’ll let you know what date the trial is expected to start and when it’s likely to end. They’ll also let you know if you will need to give evidence at court and what time you need to arrive.
The court will make every effort to make sure that the trial starts on time but sometimes the start of your trial can be delayed – for example if another trial is overrunning in a courtroom. The police will keep you up to date with what is happening.
The Witness Service can arrange for you to visit the court before the trial. During the visit the Witness Service team will talk you through what will happen on the day of trial and show you what the courtrooms look like to help you feel more comfortable on the day.
If you are nervous about seeing the defendant or their friends or family in the court on the day, please let the police or the Witness Service know. They may be able to arrange for you to enter the court building through a private side entrance or stagger your arrival times so you can avoid the defendant.
Once you’ve visited the court you may want to change any special measures that have been put in place for you. That’s okay - this is very common. You’ll need to let the police officer know what changes you would like to make as soon as possible. We will then apply to the judge to amend your special measures arrangements.
Please let the police know if you need to use a taxi, train or air travel to get to the court or if you live so far away that you need overnight accommodation to make sure you can get to the court on time. The police will give us this information and our team will book your travel and/or accommodation for you.
For most other lower cost travelling expenses, it is usually easier to use a witness expenses form which we’ll give to at court. You can use this form to reclaim travel expenses as well as childcare and loss of earnings up to set amounts. You can find out more in our expenses guidance. If you have any questions or concerns about travel or expenses please let your police contact know.
If you’ve video-recorded your evidence the police will agree a time with you for you to watch this before the trial. This is to give you a chance to refresh your memory before the trial starts. If you’ve given a written witness statement they’ll provide you with a copy of his for you to review – this will usually happen on the day of the trial.