Home > Victims of Crime > Support if You are a Witness to a Crime

Support if You are a Witness to a Crime

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 15 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Witness To Crime Victim Of Crime Court

Most of the cases that come before the courts don't actually require the witnesses to the crime to go to court to give their evidence. When the police interviewed you they would have taken a full statement. Both the defence and prosecution lawyers will decide if they need to ask you any further questions that will require that you appear at the court in person.

If you are called to court as a witness there are few ways you can get out of not appearing. However, if you can produce a doctor's note that clearly states that you have a medical condition that prevents you from coming to court, you may be excused a court appearance. Remember that if you are summoned to court as a witness you must appear. If you don't you could be arrested, fined and even sent to prison as failure to appear is contempt of court, which is a serious offence.

Being a Witness

When you report a crime to the police they may ask you come to the police station to look at photographs of convicted criminals to try and identify the person or persons you witnessed committing the crime. You may also be asked to take part in an identity parade. This is completely anonymous, as the people in the parade can't see you. Before you leave the police station you will be given a leaflet called 'Witness in Court' that is produced by the Home Office. You can download a copy from the Home Office website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/witness.pdf.

Criminal cases will usually go before a magistrates' court, but more serious crimes could be sent to the Crown Court. If you are called to the Crown Court, you will have to give your evidence before a judge and jury. You should only have to go to court once to give your evidence unless the courts ruling is appealed against in which case if a new trial is ordered, you may have to give your evidence again.

Going to Court

One the day you have to give your evidence make sure you:

  • Arrive at the court with plenty of time. The letter from the court will have informed you, date and time of your case.
  • Dress smartly.
  • Take something to read or otherwise occupy your time as you could be waiting for some time for your case to be heard.
  • Take a friend. Going to court can be very traumatic. If you don't have a friend that can go with you, the Witness Support program can help you.
  • Take some money, as you will need to buy refreshments throughout the day.

Witness Support

The thought of standing in court and giving evidence can be a daunting prospect for most people. To help people cope with being a witness, the Witness Support Service run by Victim Support can help you before, during and after you have given your evidence. There is a Witness Support service across the UK. You can get contact details on their website at: www.victimsupport.org.uk. In Scotland you can call the Victim Support helpline that can give you information about witness support on: 0845 6039 213.

Young Witnesses

Being a witness in court can be a very traumatic experience for children. The NSPCC's Young Witness Support program can help children when they are faced with a court hearing in a criminal case. Their help is impartial in that they focus on the needs of the child and have no knowledge of the cases that the child is a witness in. The service also supports the child after the trial has ended as children may have issues that they still need support dealing with. You can get more information about this service by telephoning: 0808 800 5000.

Very young witnesses are often given the chance to give their testimony via video link. This is to protect the child from any excessive stress as they give their evidence. You should ask your solicitor or Victim support about how this system works and if your child could benefit by using a video link.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
If I know the man that has been arrested & I am called up to witness something he has done do I have to go to court as I know him & his friends
Wild child - 15-Jan-17 @ 10:51 AM
can I drop the charges on my partner who damage my house.he been to court yesterday hein the bail hostel I am a witness to this crime .buthe broke is conditional discharge what will happen
sweetpea - 27-Jan-16 @ 10:17 PM
having allowed the police to take statements from my 6 & 9yr old girls involving a complaint at the local park im starting to think they are going to be used as main court evidence as a man has been arrested. I didnt expect this as the park had many witnesses to question, i presumed the older girls would make more credible evidence after police interviewed more witnesses & suffer less trauma. I now regret allowing their questioning & seek to decline the police the right to use my children. Thus forcing them to use older girls to gain conviction. Have i the right to protect my children from taking things any further?
seagulls - 12-Sep-15 @ 4:25 AM
Thank you, I love how doctor Chantrenne is always absolutely right all the time on every subject, amazing person you are lady! and thinking about it, I just kind of agree with all because your point of view prevents an argument and closes the subject. No matter what you have to say .o).
Lawrence - 15-Mar-13 @ 2:46 PM
We all know in today's world, nobody can report a crime anonymously....Here in the US every 911 call is taped and traced After that, if it goes to trial, the person who reported the crime must testify and face a defense lawyer who is determined to ruin the reporter's credibility and attack the reporter's character by any means and just trying to break up a crime in progress can get you physically harmed or .... maybe killed. So ... let's not be so quick to judgment here ....Most people do the right thing or try to do the right thing..... butin some situations, however .... doing the right thing can ruin your life.... yep...
Coco Chantrenne, M.B - 7-Dec-12 @ 12:50 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • RaJ
    Re: What Happens at an Immigration Hearing?
    @K - I didn't think you could appeal from inside the UK any more. I thought you had to do it from outside?
    24 January 2017
  • Pughie
    Re: A Guide to Court Orders
    Our home is sold subject to contract surveyor was out last week & I've completed The conveyancing pack. Our mortgage is in joint names &…
    24 January 2017
  • CourtroomAdvice
    Re: Breach of Court Order: What Steps to Take Next?
    RT - Your Question:My partner is currently going through court as his ex has unilaterally stopped access…
    24 January 2017
  • Fdoverbyex
    Re: A Guide to Court Orders
    My ex got a court order a few years ago preventing me from seeing my daughter all based on lies, my daughter is now 14 and keeps trying…
    23 January 2017
  • Jock
    Re: What Happens at an Immigration Hearing?
    @PK - there are a lot of people wanting to come to the UK or applying to stay in the UK after Brexit so currently…
    23 January 2017
  • TG1
    Re: Caught Drink Driving
    Same as bongo to a degree. had 4 or 5 drinks in me. Drove at 3am. A guy was randomly out on the middle of a busy 3 lane road. I clipped him.…
    23 January 2017
  • Callum
    Re: Police and Court Bail
    Hi there, I was arrested around a month ago. Was refused service in a shutting kebab shop. Was moaning, said get out. I stupidly pushed…
    23 January 2017
  • Tabi
    Re: Probation and Community Sentencing
    I have 150 hour unpaid work But I can't do it almost I do 6 to 7 days work what shall I do who should I speak
    22 January 2017
  • JJG
    Re: Your First Time in a Courtroom
    My partner is on remand and has been refused bail once, the charges have changed to a less serious charge now. Can he apply for…
    22 January 2017
  • J.J.G
    Re: Your First Time in a Courtroom
    My partner is on remand in prison for 7weeks now. He appeared in crown court 6weeks ago accused of GBH against his ex partner.…
    22 January 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the CourtroomAdvice website. Please read our Disclaimer.