We’re supporting more defence witnesses
When we first started running the Witness Service in 2015 the number of defence witnesses we supported was very low and many of the defence community I spoke to either didn’t know about our service or thought that we were a prosecution only service. Now, 2 years later, we’re supporting almost 400 a month and have increased the numbers of defence witnesses who are referred to us for pre-trial support.
This increase is down to our teams spending time talking to the defence about our service, holding seminars and awareness raising sessions, building confidence in our service resulting in a commitment to work together. Some practitioners are spreading the word for us by becoming champions of our service, including Richard Thompson from Wilberforce Chambers in Hull:
“As a direct result of this process, the service has already provided support for a number of witnesses giving evidence in our local courts for the defence. Practitioners are now well aware of what is available and of the benefits to them in providing a better service for their clients and I am confident that this innovative collaboration will benefit many witnesses in the future.
We’re now starting to hear from our new partners just how valuable our service is to witnesses, we recently heard from John Lyons about the impact our service had on one of his witnesses in a case he was defending at the Central Criminal Court:The defence witness was very vulnerable and terrified at the prospect of giving evidence, and also had limited English. We liaised with the Witness Service, a number of days in advance of the witness being required, to discuss how her needs could be met at court.… I was most impressed with the volunteer’s unbiased support and preparation of the witness.
The volunteer was very intelligent, sympathetic and showed great consideration to the situation and to the particular needs of my witness. The support from the volunteer enabled the witness to give evidence in a calm, clear way that was helpful for everyone in court, including the jury and the defendant.”
I’m delighted that this injection of energy from our teams in engaging the defence is already paying off. We’ve still got lots of work to do but I’m confident that we’re making great progress in our mission to make sure every witness can access our support.
If you would like to work with us please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or you can refer your witnesses online.
- Category: Consumer