What is witness care?
When you report a crime to us, our investigation might mean someone is charged with an offence.
This could mean they have to go to court, and that you have to go as well.
- are victim or witness
- provide a statement to us
Our witness care unit will help you should have to go to court.
What to expect as a victim or witness
Like all criminal justice agencies, we follow the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
These are a set of guidelines, to make sure victims get the best support and advice throughout your case.
We will make sure victims are:
- treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner with no discrimination
- given any support necessary to cope and recover
- protected from being victimised again
- shown how to get information and future support
None of your details will ever be shared with suspects or offenders.
Go to the government website if you’d like to find out more.
There’s also a similar code for witnesses, known as the Witness Charter. You can also learn more information about going to court as a witness, and about the role of the witness.
What is a witness care officer?
If you do have to go to court, we’ll provide you with a witness care officer.
You should use them to ask any questions you have. They’ll also ask any questions to relevant agencies, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Witness care officers will:
- help as soon as someone is charged with an offence, and will continue to do so until the end of the case.
- provide updates on the court case
- offer you help ahead of going to court
Going to court
If you have to give evidence at court, the witness care officer will tell you this. They’ll also explain the court process.
If needed, they will also complete a detailed needs assessment. This gives you the chance to tell us if you need any support you need. This could include:
- help travelling to the court
- a visit to the court before the trial
- having an interpreter with you
You can also ask for other special measures.
What are special measures?
Special measures can be put in place by the court to help victims and witnesses give evidence.
Courts can offer this to anyone who could be vulnerable or intimidated. These can include:
- screens around the witness box to stop the defendant seeing you and vice versa
- giving evidence over video from another room in the court building
Make sure you ask your witness care officer about this. The court makes the final decision, but takes your views into account.
What is a victim personal statement?
If you’re a victim, you’ll get the opportunity to make a victim personal statement.
This will let you explain how a crime has affected you:
- in any other way
If read in court, it will happen after the verdict is given, but before the sentence is decided.
You can read it yourself, or someone from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will do this for you.
If you’d like to make a statement, speak to your witness care officer. You can read more on the Victims Code of Practice page.
View the following videos to find out:
- the types of sentences offenders can get
- the factors influence the sentence an offender gets
- how a judge uses sentencing guidelines
If you need to contact us, email us.
You can also call us on:
- 0121 250 7501 if you live in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton
- 0121 250 7531 if you live in Birmingham
- 0121 250 7518 if you live in Coventry or Solihull
- if you’d like a visit to the court before the trial, you can contact the Citizens Advice witness service.
- you can also find more information about attending court.
- if you’re a victim of a violent offence, you might be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
- if you’re a victim of a domestic or sexual violence offence, view this link for a full list of support agencies.
Victim Support is an independent charity that help people affected by crime and traumatic events. They are not part of the police or any other criminal justice agency. Visit their website to see how they can help you, or call 0808 168 9111.