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Help for the Victims of Crime

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice took over the running of the court based Witness Service from Victim Support on 1 April 2015.

The Witness Service Improvement Programme (WSIP) has been set up to deliver a modern, consistent and resilient service that meets the needs of every witness in England and Wales.

Further information about Citizens Advice is available on the Citizens Advice Website.

Keeping you informed

Once a charge has been brought the police will pass your file on to your local Witness Care Unit. They ensure that victims and witnesses are kept at the centre of the criminal justice system. The Witness Care Unit manages the care of victims and witnesses from the point of charge through to the conclusion of a case. They are staffed jointly by representatives from the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Witness Care Unit will allocate you a dedicated witness care officer. Your witness care officer will act as your single point of contact and will keep you informed of the case's progress, from the point of charging the suspect, to sentencing or acquitting the defendant.

Your witness care officer will assess the needs of all victims and prosecution witnesses where defendants have pleaded not guilty. This helps to identify specific support requirements, such as childcare, transport, language difficulties, medical issues and to highlight areas of concern, for example if you feel that you may be subject to intimidation.

They will continuously review your needs throughout the duration of the case. They will also, along with volunteers from the witness service, provide practical and emotional support.

Statutory obligations

Under The Code of Practice for Victims Of Crime, the Witness Care Unit has a statutory obligation to:

  • Tell you if you will be required to give evidence
  • Tell you the dates of the court hearings
  • tell you how you can access 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.