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What to expect in court

If you’re going to court as a victim or a witness, there is a range of services available to make life easier for you.

Help getting to court

If you’re a victim of crime or a witness for the prosecution, a witness care officer from the Witness Care Unit in North Yorkshire Police will let you know the date of the trial. At this time, you can also ask them for any help you need getting to the court.

He or she will ask what you will need when you are at court to see if you require any special help. This might range from an interpreter to a closed circuit TV link. If you cannot get to court on the trial date, tell your witness care officer straight away – giving the reasons why.

If you’re a defence witness, the defence lawyer will let you know when you have to go to court. They may also help you get there.

Please note that the Witness Care Unit does not support defence witnesses.

Expenses for going to court

Ask your solicitor or a court official for an expenses form when you arrive at court. You can claim for expenses for going there to give evidence.

Witness expenses and allowances

Your employer does not have to pay you for time off work when you appear as a witness but cannot deduct the time from your annual leave allowance or stop you attending.

Review your statement

If you gave a statement to the police, it may have been a while since you saw it. You can ask them to let you see the statement again before you go to court, to refresh your memory for the trial. If you have been called as a prosecution witness, you can also ask the Crown Prosecution Service to show you the statement again on the day of the trial.

Help and support in the court

The National Witness Service at the court can give you personal support on the day of the trial, for example someone to go into the courtroom with you. It is run by the Citizens Advice Bureau and helps all court witnesses.

The court will provide an interpreter if you’ve asked for one. They can translate what happens during the hearing but they cannot represent you or give you legal advice.

Waiting to be called

If you’re a victim or prosecution witness, you should be able to wait in a separate room. This is so you won’t have to meet the defendant(s) or their family and friends before the trial.

If there isn’t a separate area, speak to court staff. They will make sure that you are safe. If anyone tries to intimidate you, tell your solicitor or court staff and they will report it to the police.

Extra support in the courtroom

The court may be able to take extra steps called ‘special measures’ to support you if you are:

  • Under 18
  • Disabled
  • Afraid to give evidence in front of the defendant
  • A victim of a sexual or violent offence

These could include:

  • Screens to stop you having to see the defendant
  • Giving evidence by a live video link from outside the courtroom
  • Ordering the public to leave the courtroom when you give evidence (usually if the case is about a sexual offence)

Speak to a police officer on the case, witness care officer or the defence solicitor who asked you to come to court if you need extra support.