Witnesses

If you have witnessed a crime you can get information and support on going to court from Victim Support's Witness Service.

What can the Witness Service offer you?

If you have witnessed a crime Victim Support can help you to cope with going to court by giving you information and support. Your family and friends who are attending court can get help too and we support witnesses for both the prosecution and defence. Victim Support also provide comprehensive support to children at court. 

The Witness Service can give you:

  • someone to talk to confidentially, about how you're feeling before a trial
  • information about what to expect in court, including a chance to see the court beforehand and learn about court procedures
  • a quiet place to wait before you are called to give evidence
  • someone to go with you into the courtroom if you want, to help you feel more at-ease
  • practical help (for example with claiming your expenses)
  • easier access to people, such as court staff, who can answer specific questions about the case
  • a chance to talk over the case when it has ended and to get more help or information

Like the rest of Victim Support, the Witness Service is free and independent of the police or courts. 

What is a helping plan?

Witness Service when they first speak to you will ask you some questions about what has happened and how you think you’ve been affected by the crime.

If you want their support, they will put together a ‘helping plan’ just for you. The help they give falls into three main kinds, whether you’re a victim or a witness of crime:
 

Emotional support

Going to court can be an intimidating, even scary experience. As well as being in the same place as the accused, their friends and family, you might have to face difficult cross-examination from a lawyer. Giving evidence can also mean having to talk about difficult and painful experiences that you'd rather forget. 

Witness Service volunteers can help support you emotionally both before and after the trial.

Information

Courts are unfamiliar places for most of us. They can also be intimidating. Witness Service can help you before the trial by giving you the opportunity to have a look round an empty courtroom so that you know what to expect. Witness Service can also explain to you what will happen on the day and who you'll have to deal with. Witness Service can't stand in the witness box for you or tell you what to say - but we can give you the information you need to give your evidence with confidence.

Practical help

Going to court as a witness can cause practical problems. If you're anxious or stressed about giving evidence, you can probably do without the added stress of finding your way around the court, filling in expense forms, and dealing with court staff. Witness Service can support you both before and on the day of the trial and help you to deal with this kind of practical issue.

Support people

Key contact

Victim support

Visit the Victim Support's Witness Service website 

Support services

Find a Witness Service in your area