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Going to court

If you agree, the police will pass your details to the Witness Service who’ll give you free help and support before and during the trial.

Someone from the Witness Service will be there to meet you when you arrive at court. They will go with you when you give evidence and support you throughout the day.

Going to the trial

Where possible, you can ask court staff to let you into the court through a different entrance to the defendant and sit in a separate waiting area, away from their friends and family. 

Some court buildings don’t have separate entrances or waiting areas for victims and witnesses. But if you let them know in advance, court staff will make sure you feel safe and don’t have to see the defendant on arrival.

If you’re a witness, you won’t be able to watch the trial until after you’ve given evidence. If you’re not a witness, you can go to the trial from the beginning. Let court staff know you’re there. 

What you should do if you’re going to court

  1. Get free help and support from the Witness Service – either inside the court on the day of the trial, or by calling 0300 332 1000 at least 2 working days before the trial. If you live in London and will be giving evidence in a London court, call the London Victim and Witness Service on 0808 168 9291.
  2. Tell the Witness Care Unit if you’re feeling vulnerable or think you might need special measures at court. 
  3. Make sure you bring some things to help you pass the time, such as books or headphones, in case you’re kept waiting on the day of the trial. 
  4. Ask your Crown Prosecution Service representative for a form if you want to claim expenses. 

What happens next

Find out about the special measures you could receive in court.

Glossary

Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service presents criminal cases at court after they have been investigated by the police. 

Defendant

The person charged with a criminal offence. 

Special measures

The extra support a court can provide to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses give their best evidence. These measures could include putting screens around the witness box. 

Witness Care Unit

The Witness Care Unit describes a police-led function which provides information and support to victims and witnesses in cases progressing through the criminal justice system. This unit may be known by another name in your local area.

Witness Service 

The people at court who provide practical and emotional support to witnesses. 

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