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Getting support before a trial

It’s normal to feel anxious or nervous before a trial, but you can get lots of practical and emotional support from the Witness Service.

They can: 

  • give you independent, impartial and confidential advice 
  • let you know about the court procedure and layout 
  • arrange for you to visit the court before the trial starts, so you’ll know what to expect 
  • provide any practical help you need at court  
  • help you to cope with any anxiety caused by court 

The Witness Service can’t give you legal advice or discuss specific details of the trial. But they will be there for whatever support you need throughout the trial. 

To speak to the Witness Service before you go to court, call 0300 332 1000 or fill in a referral form. They should contact you within 2 working days. There are also Witness Service volunteers you can speak to on the day of the trial in every Crown Court and magistrates’ court in England and Wales. 

If you live in London and are giving evidence in a London court, you can get pre-trial support from the London Victim and Witness Service by calling 0808 168 9291.

What happens next

Find out about preparing to go to court.


Crown Court

This court usually deals with the most serious crimes. It normally has a jury who decides if a suspect is guilty, and a judge who decides on the sentence.  

Magistrates’ court

This court hears most criminal cases except the most serious ones. Decisions are made by a district judge or 2 or 3 voluntary magistrates. There’s no jury. 

Witness Service

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

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