We have a Witness Care Unit to manage the care of victims and witnesses who are due to attend court. The unit is staffed by people from the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. They unit get involved when someone is charged and will continue to guide and support victims and witnesses until the end of the case. They also have a coordinating role for support with other services. The Witness Care Unit works closely with other agencies such as the Witness Service, the Young Witness Service and multiple Domestic Abuse agencies.
A Witness Care Officer (WCO) is a member staff in Witness Care Unit. They are the single point of contact between victims and witnesses and relevant agencies.
Witness care officers support victims and witnesses by:
- Providing updates on their case as it progresses through the court.
- Providing information and practical support for going to court and giving evidence, including how it works, the process and provide any support needed.
- Helping to put ‘special measures’ in place if they are needed. These can be put in place to support victims and witnesses who are either vulnerable or intimidated. (https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/special-measures ).
- Providing updates and outcomes of the court process. This includes if the offender appeals the given sentence.
- If the offender is committed to imprisonment for 12 months and above then they will action a referral to the Probation Service for their information. The Probation Service will then liaise with the victim of the offence regarding support throughout the length of sentence