Citizens Advice Witness Service Quality Mark Award
We are delighted to be able to announce that Citizens Advice Witness
Service has successfully gained a Supporting Justice Quality Mark Award.
The Witness Service was assessed against our five key standards and how they actually help deliver effective outcomes for witnesses (and victims): access; needs; value; support and safety. The assessment team visited criminal courts, magistrates and crown, across England and Wales and met with witnesses, key stakeholders, volunteers and staff following a review of a raft of pre assessment materials. The head of operations for the service said: “it was a really valuable opportunity for us to understand what we’re doing well and where we might be able to enhance our services further”.
It was an inspiring experience to meet so many who deliver a truly valuable and valued, indeed, vital service to those who go through the ordeal of going to court as a witness. Whether they be witnesses for the prosecution or the defence it was good to hear how other criminal justice agencies, as well as support services beyond the criminal justice system, have come to see the Witness Service as crucial to the effective delivery of support and justice and much needed support.
We found that the service provides easy, effective and inclusive access for those who need support at court and those who are assessed as likely to benefit from pre court support, including children and young witnesses. The service has also made great efforts to engage with defence witnesses who are no less in need of support as they attend court. Needs assessments are good and more and more witnesses are having additional needs identified and then referred to other specialist support agencies.
The witnesses we spoke with expressed their gratitude for the support they had been given and that they felt engaged, well informed and, especially, valued and treated with empathy and respect throughout their engagement with the Witness Service. The all too often labyrinthine criminal justice process was well explained and this helped witnesses to give their best evidence.
Any service is only as good as the team which delivers it and we recognise that the Witness Service team demonstrates a strong culture of collaboration and mutual support. As we have highlighted before, it is so often culture and values that help determine the quality of service rather than a simple reliance on policy and procedures.
The Witness Service is the largest service we have so far assessed. However, the approach, the standards and the values that underpin our assessment process apply equally to large and small service delivery organisations. It is the delivery of effective outcomes that matter. The Quality Mark provides a benchmark for victim and witness services to aspire to: of delivering a service that can be considered excellent.
If you would like to learn more about our Quality Mark and how it might help your organisation please get in touch – we will be happy to hear from you.