Support for Witnesses at Court
- Witnesses often feel intimidated by the court. Children, in particular, sometimes become distressed, confused, silent and afraid. To help witnesses, the prosecutor should :
- ask police to arrange assistance for the young, the elderly and the disabled to get to court;
- encourage the provision of proper facilities at court for the reception of witnesses;
- seek the admission of video recorded evidence;
- ask for children/the mentally incapacitated/witnesses in fear to be permitted to give evidence, if appropriate, by means of a live television link;
- consider the use of screens in the court room to shield a victim or witness from the accused;
- consider the clearance of the public gallery in sexual offence cases or cases involving intimidation;
- in cases involving sexual offences, where appropriate, apply for an order that the witness’ identity remains anonymous.
- Decisions about whether special measures are required should be taken at the earliest opportunity, and ideally when charging decisions are made. However, circumstances may change or witnesses may change their minds and it is possible to apply for special measures at any stage of the proceedings.