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You've given a witness statement to the police

This advice applies to England

The police will ask you to explain what you saw, either in writing or on video - this is your witness statement. They’ll ask you to sign it to say it’s true.

People involved with the case - for example lawyers or the judge, will read or watch your witness statement. They might also use it as evidence in court.

The police officer who takes your statement will give you the name and contact details of the officer in charge of the case - you can contact them at any time if you have any questions.

Make sure you tell the police officer who takes your statement if there are any dates you won’t be to able go to court to give evidence - for example if you’re going on holiday.

The police will contact you if they need your help again - for example if they want you to identify a suspect.

What happens next

The police will contact you if you have to go to court to give evidence - this can take some time. This is because court cases can take a long time to prepare.

If you’re the victim of the crime

Someone will contact you if:

  • the police charge a suspect
  • the case doesn’t progress - for example because there’s not enough evidence
  • a suspect is given bail – this means they won’t be held by the police before the trial

Find help and support if you’re a victim of crime on GOV.UK.

How to change or withdraw your statement

Tell the police officer in charge of the case as soon as possible.

The police will probably want you to give evidence in court to help settle the case. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to - you should do what feels right.

If you withdraw your statement, the case might still go to court if the police think they have enough evidence to prosecute the suspect.

If you want to withdraw your statement because you’re worried about giving evidence, you should tell the police how you feel. You might be able to get extra help in court - check if you can get extra help.

If you’re worried about going to court as a witness

You can get free and confidential help from the Witness Service. They can give you emotional support and help you understand the court process.

You can find out more about the Witness Service and how to get help.

If you don’t want to go to court 

 You should talk to the person who asked you to go to court and tell them how you feel. There might be things they can do to help make going to court easier.

 You might still have to go to court, even if you don’t want to - it will depend on how important your evidence is to the trial.

If you have to go to court, the court might send you a witness summons. If you get a witness summons, you have to go to court when the summons tells you to. You can find out what happens if you get a witness summons.

If you don’t want to go to court because someone is intimidating you, you should get help. You can find out what to do if you’re being intimidated.