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Response to the Director of Public Prosecutions’ consultation on speaking to witnesses in court

13 March 2015
Consultation response cover

This document is a response to the Director of Public Prosecutions’ consultation on draft guidance published by Crown Prosecution Service on Speaking to Witnesses at Court.

The guidance aims to give prosecutors clarity on what is expected of them in supporting victims and witnesses at court.

  • The response outlines the key issues that witnesses face when going to court. These issues include a lack of updates, long waiting times, the use of confusing language by people in court and distressing cross-examinations.
  • The response also calls for greater clarity about court agencies’ responsibilities to witnesses and how they can be achieved in practice.
  • Lastly, it highlights the importance of ensuring witnesses feel informed, valued and respected throughout the process of going to court. It recommends that witnesses are given the opportunity to provide feedback about their experience to ensure that the proposed guidance makes positive difference to witnesses.

Citizens Advice understands the issues faced when people become involved in complex legal issues. Last year, Citizens Advice’s online guidance about the legal system was viewed over 77,000 times. Information pages on courts of law were viewed over 50,000 times. In 2013/4, bureau staff and volunteers helped over 140,000 people with legal issues. Of these, over 40,000 clients needed advice about court proceedings.

From April 1st 2015, Citizens Advice will begin delivery of the Witness Service in courts across England and Wales.