Consistent, high quality support “from start to finish” needed for victims and witnesses
Citizens Advice has today called for consistent and high-quality support for victims of crime and witnesses. The charity, which runs the Witness Service, has also highlighted the importance of police identifying victims of domestic abuse.
A new report published today by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has found that some vulnerable victims and witnesses are being let down by an inconsistent approach to the management of criminal case files.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Victims of crime and witnesses need to have consistent and high quality support from start to finish in the justice system. Giving evidence in court can be incredibly stressful for witnesses or victims, especially when they are vulnerable or have suffered from domestic abuse or harassment.
“The vulnerability of a victim or witness needs to be assessed as early as possible after their first contact with police and the right support needs to be available throughout any investigation and trial. Consistent and high quality support includes measures, such as video links, which help victims and witnesses to give the best evidence.
“The police can be the first contact that victims of domestic abuse have with the justice system and it is therefore also important that they know how to identify victims and recommend specialist help. For some victims, whether the abuse is recognised and recorded by police can make a difference in whether they are able secure legal aid to separate from their abuser or protect their children in the family court.”
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free practical and emotional support for witnesses in all criminal courts across England and Wales. The Witness Service is run by nearly 2,500 volunteers and 300 staff and its independent support is offered to anyone to called to give evidence.
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
- Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.