Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), has announced that victims and witnesses will be offered greater support by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at Crown Court proceedings.
The announcement comes after the CPS published the results of its survey of over 7,000 victims and witnesses. Although two thirds of victims and three quarters of witnesses were satisfied with the service they received from the CPS, 49% of victims and 36% of witnesses reported that they were not given enough support before giving evidence in court.
The changes announced today are due to start in October with three pilot areas that will test proposed new guidance based on the survey findings. The pilots aim to improve the support and information provided to victims and witnesses throughout court proceedings.
DPP Alison Saunders said: “I am really pleased that since I introduced dedicated teams to liaise with victims they have overwhelmingly found these helpful. But the message from both victims and witnesses remains loud and clear – while we do get it right in the majority of cases, they want more support throughout the life of a prosecution and especially ahead of what can be the difficult task of giving evidence at a live criminal trial. The CPS can and will do more to support the victims and witnesses who are essential to the success of our prosecutions, from shoplifting to homicides.”
Mark Castle, Chief Executive of Victim Support, said: “We know from supporting thousands of victims and witnesses through the court process that it can be daunting and distressing. The main worry for many is the process of giving evidence and being cross examined.
“It is right that victims and witnesses should be given more information about their case, and in particular the nature of the defence, so that they can be better prepared to give their best evidence.
“We welcome the fact that more support and information will be available to help people through this difficult time.”
Victim Support is also working with the CPS to develop a training video and materials, which will be used to help train prosecutors to communicate and interact more effectively with victims and witnesses, and improve their experience of the court process.
See full results of the CPS survey.