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Witness Care

The Witness Care Unit replaced the former Witness Liaison Units. The Witness Liaison Units function was to co-ordinate victims/witnesses attendance at court only.

Adult male and female supporting blueThe new unit has additional responsibilities, which are required by the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, which became effective from April 2006.

The Witness Care Unit (WCU) is staffed by both police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) staff and are based on two sites within CPS buildings to improve links between the two departments and reduce communication problems. 

What We Do

At the initial recording of a not guilty plea the WCU will contact all civilian victims and witnesses making reference to:

  • the progression of the case
  • victim support and witness service referrals
  • any special needs relating to victims/witnesses
  • witness availability
  • establish whether intimidation has occurred

When the List of Witnesses to Attend Court (LWAC) has been received from the CPS the WCU will conduct a full needs assessment of all civilian victims and witnesses warned to attend court. The needs assessment is not completed for professionals such as doctors and store detectives.

The Witness Care Unit must be the single point of contact to provide victims and witnesses with the relevant information. This is to reduce duplicity however there will be occasions when due to the sensitivity of the case this information may be relayed by a secondary source for example Family Liaison Officers (FLOs).

As cases proceed the Witness Care Unit must inform all victims and witnesses information relating to:

  • not guilty pleas or notice of appeal
  • if the case is dropped
  • any successful bail application
  • outcomes from hearing
  • sentence information

The above tasks are complex and rely on all agencies providing timely and accurate information including the police. Due to vast caseloads it is often difficult to coordinate trials dates to suit all parties. On some occasions trials are placed on a reserve list which means officers are placed on standby and may be required on any one of several dates. It is the Court Listing Officer who has the responsibility for setting trial dates.