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Frequently Asked Questions

A helpful list of frequently asked questions by victims and witnesses of crime.

We appreciate that you may well have a number of questions. Below is a list of some frequently asked questions by victims of crime, which you may find useful.

  • Q:

    Can I decide on a preferred means of contact?

    A:

    Yes. The default means of contact is by phone, but if a victim of crime prefers another form of contact (e.g. letter, e-mail, or even text) arrangements can easily be made with the Police Officer or your Victim and Witness Care Officer.

  • Q:

    Will I be kept up-to-date with the progress of my case?

    A:

    Yes, certainly. Throughout the investigation the Police Officer in your case has a duty to maintain regular contact with victims to keep them updates (unless opted out). The Victim and Witness Service Centre has a duty once an individual has been charged to maintain regular contact with victims to keep them updated (unless opted out) on the progress of their case, including the outcome and any sentence given to the defendant when convicted.

  • Q:

    Will the Victim and Witness Service Centre be able to help with practical needs and support required?

    A:

    Yes. The Victim and Witness Service Centre will be able to advise you on a range of practical considerations, such as:

  • Q:

    What time do the courts open?

    A:

    Crown Court is open to the public from 9am until 5pm each weekday but court normally starts at 10.00am. Magistrates Court buildings are usually open half an hour before the first hearing starts each day at 10am.

  • Q:

    Do the courts have parking?

    A:

    Some courts do and some courts don't. It is best to look at court facilities prior to your visit. The below link will advise on facilities at your local court, including parking. Alternatively, your Victim and Witness Care Officer will be able to provide you with details relating to the specific court in which your case is being heard.

  • Q:

    What if I have no transport?

    A:

    You should advise a member of the The Victim and Witness Service Centre at the earliest opportunity if you have any problems about getting to the court location for the trial. They will be able to assist in the making of travel arrangements, which may include rail travel. If you travel to court by car or bus you can claim expenses back after you have given your evidence.

  • Q:

    What happens when I get to court?

    A:

    When you arrive at court you should report to the Witness Suite advising them which case you are due to give evidence in. You will then be directed to the Witness Service room where volunteers will be on hand to offer you practical and emotional support about the proceedings. The Witness Service volunteers will also offer you a chance to view the courtroom prior to the start of the trial normally 1 - 2 weeks before the trial date.

  • Q:

    Can I have a copy of my statement before or on the day of the trial?

    A:

    A Witness Service volunteer will provide you with a copy of your statement when you arrive at court for the trial.

  • Q:

    What are special measures?

    A:

    These are options that the court can allow to enable a Victim to give the best evidence they can at court.

  • Q:

    Will I see the defendant?

    A:

    While waiting to give evidence you will be kept in a separate waiting room, however, you will be giving your evidence in open court.

  • Q:

    What do I need to wear to attend court?

    A:

    There is no dress code for court; it is at your own discretion.

  • Q:

    How long will I be at court for?

    A:

    Unfortunately we cannot say how long your evidence will take, although the court will try to keep your attendance to a minimum. Once you have given your evidence you will be released from the court. We would advise you bring a book and some refreshments with you, should you have to wait, however light refreshments are available to buy within most court buildings.

  • Q:

    Who will be with me at court? Do I need a solicitor?

    A:

    If you are attending court to give evidence you will not need a solicitor. You may bring someone with you to court if you wish and the Witness Service will assist you once at court.

  • Q:

    What support will there be at court for me?

    A:

    A Witness Service volunteer will be there when you arrive at court. You will also be able to sit and wait in the waiting room provided. The Witness Service volunteers are there to provide emotional and practical support during the trial.

  • Q:

    Can I bring anyone with me?

    A:

    If you have been granted Special Measures or are under 18 then you can bring someone with you for support. You can also bring anyone with you to court under any other circumstances but they may not always be able to claim expenses for attending with you so please bare this in mind.

  • Q:

    Will my religious beliefs be taken into consideration?

    A:

    The Usher or Witness Service volunteer will ask you prior to giving evidence which religious book you would like to swear on or whether you wish to affirm (to affirm is to swear in the court room to tell the truth but not on any religious book).

  • Q:

    How do I claim expenses?

    A:

    An expenses claim form will be provided to you at court by the Crown Prosecution Service, which you should complete and return.

  • Q:

    Do the courts cater for victims with a disability?

    A:

    The court buildings have access for disabled people; for example lifts, ramps to entrances and toilets, hearing loops and disabled parking. In the court itself the witness stand can be made specially accessible as required. However, we do request that you advise a member of the The Victim and Witness Service Centre prior to attending court so arrangements can be put in place.

  • Q:

    What if I need an Interpreter?

    A:

    If you have to attend court and English is not your first language we will arrange for an Interpreter to attend court to assist you giving evidence. You do not have to worry about arranging this as somebody at The Victim and Witness Service Centre will do this on your behalf.

  • Q:

    Do I need to bring anything with me?

    A:

    No, unless you have been specifically asked to bring something by either the Police Officer in the Case or your Victim and Witness Care Officer for the hearing. You may want to bring a book or something else to read, as we do not know how long you will be at court. If you are attending with your child, bringing something to keep them entertained is always a good idea. As we cannot predict how long you will be at court, you may wish to bring a drink or some food with you.

  • Q:

    How do I find out the result of the court case?

    A:

    A member of The Victim and Witness Service Centre will update you with the result following the conclusion of the case.

  • Q:

    Can I stay for the rest of the trial after giving evidence?

    A:

    Should you wish to stay, it will be at your own expense. You will also need to liaise with the Usher or Witness Service volunteer, who will advise you where to go to watch the remainder of the trial.