Being a witness may be a daunting experience, but we will support you and make sure you are treated with respect and sensitivity. It is not unusual to feel anxious about giving evidence in court.
Where can I find help and information about giving evidence?
We will allocate a Witness Care Officer to help you. They will answer your questions, make the arrangements for your attendance at court, and provide general guidance. You can also talk to a trained volunteer from the Witness Service before you go to court, and a volunteer will be at the court to support you.
There is a Witness Service in every criminal court in England and Wales. This service is run by a national charity, Victim Support. You can find the details of the Witness Service by calling the court, or call the Victim Support Line on 0845 30 30 900.
There is the 'Charter for Court Users' which sets out important standards which you can expect when you come to court. You can get a copy from the Court or by phoning 020 7189 2000.
Preparing to come to court
Before you are due to attend court, we will send you a copy of your statement, along with any documents or copies of documents that you provided (known as 'exhibits'). Please read these before you come to court.
We always try to give you enough notice for when you need to be at court. However, the date and time can change outside of our control - we will contact you as soon as possible if any changes occur.
Special measures for vulnerable or intimidated witnesses
Special measures are available to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses give evidence in court.
You may be eligible for special measures if:
- You are under 18 at the time of the court hearing; or
- The court thinks that you might need extra help giving your
evidence because, for example, you
- Suffer from a mental disorder
- Have a physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder
- Your evidence is likely to suffer because of intimidation.
Any special measures should have been identified at the time you gave your evidence, although your circumstances may have changed. As an application needs to be made for special measures, we suggest that you contact the SFO Officer as soon as you can. t is up to the Court to decide whether you qualify for any special measures.
Arriving at the court
When arriving at court:
- Show reception your letter and ask them to call the SFO's Witness Care Officer to meet you
- Your Witness Care Officer will be expecting you. There will be a room where you can wait before and during the hearing
- Do not talk to other people about your evidence before you go into the witness box. You can speak to police officers and lawyers dealing with the case, but you cannot discuss your evidence with them
- You may want to bring along something to read to pass time on the day
- When your name is called to give evidence as a witness, an usher will show you to the witness box
Remember: It is very important that you
- Do not go into the court until you are told to
- Do not discuss the case with any other witnesses who have not yet given their evidence
Please see this leaflet for further information
- Where to find more help and advice on being a witness;
- Where you will give your evidence;
- Who's who in the courtroom and what some of the legal language means;
- What happens before you go to court;