Witness Care Units manage the care of victims and witnesses who are due to attend court. They will get involved when someone is charged and will continue to support victims and witnesses until the end of the case. They are staffed by people from the police and the CPS and guide people through the criminal justice process. They also co-ordinate support with other services.
Witness Care Officers:
A Witness Care Officer is a member of police staff who is part of the Witness Care Unit. They act as a single point of contact between victims and witnesses and relevant agencies, including the Crown Prosecution Service. The Witness Care Officer provides victims and witnesses with updates as the case they are involved in progresses through the court. If a victim or witness is required to attend the court to give evidence, a Witness Care Officer will provide them with practical support to assist with attendance. The Witness Care Unit works closely with other agencies such as the Witness Service, the Young Witness Service and multiple Domestic Abuse agencies.
Each case that goes to court has an allocated Witness Care officer and they will provide information to victims and witnesses about going to court. The CPS updates the Witness Care Officer as to whether you are required to attend to give evidence. If you are required to give evidence, your Witness Care Officer will discuss the procedures with you in detail and make sure you have access to any support.
Special measures can be put in place at a trial to support victims and witnesses who are either vulnerable or intimidated. The police may speak to you about special measures after taking a statement. If not, your Witness Care Officer will explain the different forms of measures that may be available to you (see link below for full information).
Witness Care Unit involvement after the sentence:
An offender will be sentenced if they plead guilty or get found guilty by a Magistrate or a jury. When someone has been sentenced, that is the end of the case unless they appeal. They must appeal within 21 days of the date they were sentenced. If they are appealing a sentence that occurred at the Crown court they have to fill in an appeal form and send it to the court. A hearing will then take place for the court to make a decision on the appeal. If a further hearing takes place, the offender will present their case at court. Your Witness Care Officer will update you and advise you of the outcome.
If an offender is committed to imprisonment for 12 months and above the Witness Care Officer will action a referral to the Probation Service for their information. The Probation Service will then liaise with the victim of the offence regarding support throughout the length of sentence.