The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has launched a consultation on draft guidance which has been produced to help improve the support that witnesses receive when they are at court.
The aim of this guidance is to set out the role played by prosecutors at or before court in ensuring that witnesses give their best evidence. This is a core part of the prosecutor’s job and will, if done properly, impact positively on both the quality of the witness’s evidence in court and the perception of the service they receive from the CPS.
The guidance emphasises the need to ensure that witnesses are properly assisted and know more about what to expect before they give their evidence. Prosecutors have an important role in reducing a witness’s apprehension about going to court, familiarising them with the processes and procedures – which may seem alien and intimidating – and managing their expectations on what will happen whilst they are at court.
Some prosecutors may be uncertain about what they are allowed to say to witnesses. This guidance makes it clear what is expected and permissible and explains the difference between assisting a witness to be better able to deal with the rigors of giving evidence (which is permitted) and witness coaching (which is not permitted).
Have your say on the draft guidance here.
The consultation closes on 15 March 2015.