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Help at court

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If you are worried about attending court, speak to the officer in your case or a Witness Care Officer who will be happy to provide more information on how they can help you.

The Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) can apply for special measures on your behalf as listed below, however the court will make the final decision as to whether the request will be allowed.

Special measures are measures which can be put in place to help victims of serious crimes and victims and witnesses who are considered to be vulnerable and intimidated to give their best possible evidence in court. The police and Witness Care Unit will discuss this with you.    

The judge or magistrates will decide whether the special measures should be granted following a request from the prosecutor and you will be informed of the Court’s decision.

Special measures may include:

Giving evidence through a TV link

The witness can sit in a room outside the courtroom and give their evidence via a live television link to the courtroom. The witness will be able to see the courtroom and those in the courtroom can see the witness on a television screen; but the witness does not have to be in the courtroom. Screens call also be applied for to block the defendant's view of the television screen in court;

Video recorded evidence

In certain circumstances, the witness' evidence is recorded and played to the court;

Screens around the witness box 

A screen is placed around the witness box to prevent the defendant from seeing the witness;

Removal of wigs and gowns 

The judge and lawyers in the Crown Court do not wear gowns and wigs so that the court feels less formal. This is usually used for young witnesses;

Evidence given in private 

This is when members of the public are not allowed in the courtroom;

Use of communication aids 

This is when the witness needs to use an aid to communicate, such as an interpreter, or someone to communicate for you, or the use of a communications aid or technique. Whatever aids are allowed, they must be independently verified and understood by the court.

Examination through an intermediary

An intermediary is someone who can help a witness understand questions that they are being asked, and can make his or her answers understood by the court. Intermediaries explain questions and answers without changing the substance of the evidence.

If you are particularly worried or afraid, you can also ask the officer in charge of your case, or a Witness Care Officer for extra help.

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