Our Witness Care Officers are there to offer support and make the process of going to court as simple as possible. In Surrey, there is a team of 13 Witness Care Officers based in Guildford who will deal with cases after the First Hearing has taken place if a 'Not Guilty' plea or no plea is entered in Court.
There is a Witness Charter in place which explains the rights of any witness who is going through the Criminal Justice Process.
There is also a Code of Practice in place for Victims which explains what service victims are entitled to receive.
As cases proceed through the Criminal Justice System, Witness Care Officers contact victims and witnesses to:
- Explain the court process and undertake a detailed needs assessment if a victim or witness has to attend court to give evidence
- Update with relevant case specific information, for example; changes in court dates or bail conditions
- Discuss any concerns victims and witnesses may have about the process
- Offer help and support.
They will be a main point of contact for the victim or witness and will liaise with the police, courts Crown Prosecution Service and any other agencies required.
You can give evidence via video link
Video or remote links can allow you to give evidence without having to attend the court room. This could be useful because you will not have to go into the same room, or even building as the defendant.
If you would like to apply to use a video/remote link to give your evidence, please inform your Witness Care Officer, or if the case has not yet reached court for the first hearing please inform your Investigating Officer.
Witness Care Unit: 01483 630171 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact your Investigating Officer: via the contact details provided. If you have not yet been provided with their details please call 101 and ask to speak with them.
We will advise The Crown Prosecution Service who will make the application for approval and the Court has to consider these applications before it makes its final decision.
Sometimes a video/remote link will not be possible, or will not be agreed. If this happens, your Witness Care Officer will discuss other options available in order to support you to give your evidence.
A video/ remote link works similarly to Skype and face time; you would talk into a TV and you will be able to see the Court room and the person (for example the Prosecutor) talking to you. All those who are in the court room will be able to see you, through a similar TV.
*In exceptional situations the Court will agree to put a screen up, either around the defendant or around the TV which would mean that they wouldn’t be able to see you, but would still hear you give evidence.*
Do not worry if you have not used this type of technology before as the video/remote link will be set up for you to use by court staff.
If you live abroad or you are moving abroad and cannot return to the UK to give evidence in the trial, then video links can be used from other countries, but this can only happen if your case is being dealt with in a Crown Court.
In very rare cases we are able to arrange a video link from a laptop from your home or hospital.
These options can be discussed with your Witness Care Officer.