Providers and barristers are being encouraged to make greater use of the free Citizens Advice Witness Service which is available to support both defence and prosecution witnesses.
This is funded by the Ministry of Justice and offers free, independent and impartial support and information to all witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
Head of the Witness Service Marios Leptos said:
We’re working hard to raise awareness of this vital service among defence practitioners and there is lots of useful information on our website. Going to court can be a daunting experience for witnesses, particularly individuals who are vulnerable or subject to intimidation. Using the Witness Service can help witnesses feel more informed and supported, so they’re more likely to give their best evidence. We would urge practitioners to take advantage when preparing their case. Our service is well-used by prosecution witnesses. But we believe it is too often overlooked on the defence side.
Witness Service has been working with Supporting Justice to gain a better understanding of why the defence community has not been making more use of their service.
Supporting Justice is an organisation specialising in issues affecting victims, witnesses and their needs.
Director of Services for Supporting Justice Rhiannon Evans said:
We found through talking to defence solicitors and barristers that all too many of them either don’t know about the service or see it as a prosecution-only service.
Full blog here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/crime-news-campaign-to-boost-use-of-free-witness-support-service