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BTEC Level 3 National Public Services

Unit 12 Crime and its effects on society

AS7

The Witness Service


Case study Child witness

There is a Witness Service in every Magistrate's Court and Crown Court in England and Wales. They offer:

someone to talk to in confidence a visit to the court and where possible a look round a courtroom before you are called as a witness information on court procedures a quiet place to wait before and during the hearing someone to accompany you into the courtroom when giving evidence practical help, for example, with completing expense forms to put you in touch with people who can answer specific questions about the case, a chance to talk over the case when it has ended, and to get more help or information.

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 provided the legal framework for a range of special measures to be introduced if necessary. Some examples of these special measures are as follows.

Screens around the witness box. A screen is placed around the witness box to prevent the witness from seeing the
defendant.

Evidence via live link. The witness can sit in a room outside the courtroom and give their evidence via a live
television link to the courtroom. The witness will be able to see everything that goes on in the courtroom and those in the courtroom can see the witness via the link.

Video-recorded evidence in chief. The witness main oral evidence is videotaped and played to the court. Removal of wigs and gowns. The judge and lawyers in the Crown Court do not wear gowns and wigs. Evidence given in private. This is when the public gallery is cleared.

Working in groups
Discuss each of these measures in turn and make notes explaining with examples of why they have been introduced and who they may assist.

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