Support for victims and witnesses

PUBLISHED: 14:35 28 June 2007 | UPDATED: 12:35 04 May 2010

IF you are a victim of crime and required to appear in court, it can be a daunting prospect. But there are services available to help ease the situation and give victims the confidence to stand up and be counted. Sometimes the police s efforts to convict

IF you are a victim of crime and required to appear in court, it can be a daunting prospect.

But there are services available to help ease the situation and give victims the confidence to stand up and be counted.

Sometimes the police's efforts to convict persistent offenders are thwarted by both victims' and witnesses' reluctance to attend court.

Fear of reprisals and veiled threats are often the hidden reasons why people fail to come forward.

The police are rarely given the opportunity to tackle these issues because those threatened fail to disclose their reasons for not supporting prosecutions, and that is playing into the hands of the offenders.

Victim Support is an independent national charity which has trained volunteers based locally to make contact after a crime to offer free, confidential support and information.

The charity helps:

* Witnesses who are called to give evidence, including defence witnesses

* Victims of crime and their families and friends attending court for any reason

* Children as well as adults

The charity can offer:

* someone to talk to in confidence

* a chance to see the court beforehand and learn about court procedures

* a quiet place to wait

* someone to go with you into the court room when giving evidence

* practical help (for example with expense forms)

* easier access to people who can answer specific questions about the case (the witness service cannot discuss evidence or offer legal advice)

* a chance to talk over the case when it has ended and to get more help or information.

INFO: For more information about Victim Support contact the Victim Support Line on 0845 3030 900.

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