Before a trial
When someone is charged with a crime that you saw, and you have given a witness statement, the police will pass your information to the local Witness Care Unit (WCU).
Witness Care Units act as a single point of contact for all prosecution witnesses. They are located across England and Wales and are managed by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The WCU will assign you a witness care officer to keep you informed about the progress of your case and support you throughout the process. Right up until the case is concluded, your witness care officer will be your point of contact.
Your witness care officer is also the person who will tell you if you have to go to court to give evidence. They should tell you the time and place of the trial, and discuss any particular help or support you might need.
If you’ve given a written statement to the police, but you haven’t heard from the WCU, let the police know. If you can’t go to court on the date or at the time of the trial – perhaps because you can’t get time off work, you’re not well, you have planned hospital treatment or you are going on holiday – you should tell the WCU immediately so that they can tell the prosecution and the court.
Extra help at court
If you think you need extra help at court to give your evidence, such as help with a disability, an interpreter or support with any other additional needs, you should discuss it with your witness care officer.
This extra help could be special measures, which are designed to help you give your best evidence at court. If the court agrees, you may be able to use special measures such as screens in the courtroom, communication aids, and giving your evidence via a live video link.