The Crown Prosecution Service has credited a ‘groundbreaking’ initiative for increasing the number of victims and witnesses satisfied with the support they have received.
A survey conducted in all courts in England and Wales shows that 95% of 939 respondents were satisfied with the support provided to them at court by prosecutors. Nine in 10 cross-examined by the defence felt they were given enough information or support by the CPS to prepare them for the experience.
The latter is a rise on the 62% who reported the same in a 2015 victims and witnesses survey.
The CPS credited the improved results on its ‘Speaking to witnesses at court’ guidance, which was rolled out last year.
Martin Goldman, CPS lead for victims and witnesses, said: ‘Appearing in court is an inevitably stressful business but if we can help people to feel as comfortable and prepared as possible, justice is also well serviced by the improved evidence they will provide.
‘These survey results indicate that we are making real progress in this vital area. We must now maintain these levels and identify how we can do even more to support victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system.’
The guidance was rolled out following the 2015 survey, which showed that one in five victims were dissatisfied with the CPS.
The guidance addresses pre-hearing conversations, covering issues such as scoping of the witness’s particular needs, the role of the defence, general advice on giving evidence, and advice on cross-examination.
The CPS said prosecutors will now consider whether information should be provided at a ‘pre-trial special measures meeting’. This would give prosecutors ‘an opportunity to introduce themselves and help the witness to make a properly informed decision about which special measures might assist them to give their best evidence,’ the CPS said.