Citizens Advice takes over witness service

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Citizens Advice is to take over a scheme which looks after witnesses giving evidence in South Yorkshire’s court rooms.

The charity will take over the Witness Service from Victim Support on April 1 next year.

It has been given £24m from the Ministry of Justice to provide the court-based witness service.

The money will be used to provide face to face support at more than 300 courts across England and Wales.

Work will include greeting witnesses, explaining court procedures, giving updates on the progress of the case, and providing emotional and practical support connected to giving evidence.

It will support young, vulnerable and intimidated witnesses - and offer home visits before trials and consistency of support across the courts.

Victims’ Minister Mike Penning said: “Witnesses play a crucial role in our courts but without the right support and information it can be an intimidating process.

“It is vital people with important evidence know what to expect before entering the courtroom, and it is right that this money goes towards improving their experience and ensuring help is in place.

“This funding will go a long way to maintaining and improving the excellent work delivered by witness service staff and volunteers on a daily basis. I know Citizens Advice will deliver a first-class service.”

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “The right support can turn a daunting situation into an empowering one. 
“We are pleased to be able to extend our services by offering the practical and emotional support people need to deal with the impact and experience of being a witness in court.

Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove said: “The courtroom can be hugely traumatic for victims and witnesses of crime. 
“That’s why it is essential they are given professional support, advice and a safe and secure environment where they can go before and after a trial.”

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