Crime- witnesses of crime

Reporting a crime

People can sometimes find it difficult to report a crime. However, it is important to bear in mind that unreported crimes mean that there is very little chance that offenders will be apprehended and brought to justice. Witnesses will be given the opportunity to talk through the events and raise concerns about what they saw. If needed, the police can refer a witness to Victim Support. This charity supports victims and witnesses of crime, helping people to cope with both the emotional and practical impact of crime.

Giving evidence in court

People who have witnessed a crime may be concerned about having to give evidence in court. The majority of witnesses will be unfamiliar with court procedures and the courtroom itself. This, coupled with a lengthy wait from the reporting of a crime to the actual verdict and passing of sentence can leave the witness feeling stressed and vulnerable.

Victim Support

Victim Support has been established for over 35 years and looks after both the victims and witnesses of crime. They offer a comprehensive package of support, ranging from the practicalities of going to court to a confidential listening ear. The following list represents some of the services that a witness can access:-

  • someone to talk to confidentially, about how you are feeling before a trial
  • information about what to expect in court, including a chance to see the court beforehand and learn about court procedures
  • a quiet place to wait before you are called to give evidence
  • someone to go with you into the courtroom if you wish, to help you feel more at ease
  • practical help (for example, with claiming your expenses)
  • easier access to people, such as court staff, who can answer specific questions about the case
  • a chance to talk over the case when it has ended and to get more help or information.

You can also contact their telephone helpline on: 0845 30 30 900

Witness intimidation

All instances of witness intimidation should be reported to the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) immediately. The CPS can offer additional support, known as special measures, to vulnerable or intimidated witnesses. Also, witnesses to certain crimes, such as those of a sexual nature or crimes that involve the use of weapons, will automatically fall into the special measures category.

The court will not automatically apply special measures simply because someone fits the eligibility criteria. The court must first conclude that a special measures provision is likely to maximise the quality of witness evidence before granting an application. Equally, the court still has the power to grant certain measures in cases where the eligibility criteria have not been satisfied.

Listening Friends

You could also talk to one of Pharmacist Support’s Listening Friends in confidence. You can contact our Listening Friends Helpline on: 0808 168 5133, or contact our enquiry line on 0808 168 2233.

This fact sheet was last reviewed on 22 August 2019.