We Support You Before, During & After Court

We know attending court can be a daunting experience, if you have any concerns or questions then we are available to help.

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two people writing a form

Before court

Before The Day At Court

Once the suspect has been charged, you will be contacted, usually by a Witness Care Officer (a police employee whose job is to help victims and witnesses with any practical issues about the court process).

They will stay in touch to help you until the case is over, letting you know court dates and locations and whether the suspect has been released on bail or is being held in custody until the trial begins. If your case does go to court, you may be a witness in the trial. Your Witness Care Officer will tell you if you are going to be required to give evidence in court.

The Victim Care and Advice Service work closely with the Witness Care Unit so together they can provide the support you may need.

If you wish to visit the court prior to the court case then tell the Witness Care Unit and they can arrange for you to have a pre-trial visit to the court, so that you know where everything is, and where you and other people will sit in the courtroom, or while you’re waiting to give your evidence.

On the day

The Day At Court

If you are called to give evidence in a court, you may be asked to talk publicly about unpleasant, upsetting, or personal events – things you might not even feel comfortable saying to a friend or family member.

Remember you are not alone as VCAS can help prepare you for giving evidence to help make the process easier.

You will first be questioned by the Crown Prosecutor or Crown Advocate and then you may be asked several questions by the lawyer of the defendant – the person accused of the crime.

This is called cross-examination. Being cross-examined can be difficult, but it is important to remember that it is not a personal attack on you, simply a defence lawyer doing their job. If the questioning is too aggressive or inappropriate, the trial judge or magistrate can intervene to stop it.

If someone is convicted, sentencing can be delayed until reports are prepared. If you want to be present for sentencing, it is important you tell the Witness Care Unit.

Subject to the permission of the court, if a defendant is found guilty you are entitled to read your Victim Personal Statement (VPS) aloud or have it read aloud on your behalf.

The CPS are responsible for notifying the court if you want to read it aloud or to have it read on your behalf. If you want to attend court and read out your VPS it is important you tell the Witness Care Unit.

Click the button below to find out more about our courts in the North East.

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Durham City view from river

After court

Following The Day At Court

For many victims, their journey continues long after the trial.

The Witness Care Unit (WCU) are responsible for informing you about the outcome of the trial and sentence. The WCU can also explain that sentence to you so you fully understand. The Crown Prosecution Service are responsible for dealing with your expenses and advising you on any appeals. 

Further support

Victim Contact Scheme

If you are the victim of a serious sexual or violent offence where an offender receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, then you will be given the opportunity to join the probation service contact scheme

The Probation Service have specially trained Victim Liaison Officers (VLO’s) who can:

  • keep in contact with you during the sentence
  • answer your questions
  • give you information about how the justice system works

The VLO can also provide information to the parents, guardians or carers of child victims and where an offence has resulted in the death of the victim, information can be provided to their next of kin.

You are entitled to know certain information, and you are entitled to request additional conditions to an offender’s licence relating to you and/or your family.

Joining this scheme is completely up to you and depends on how you feel. Following the court hearing the Probation Service will write to you and ask if you would like to join the scheme.

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Further support

Criminal Injuries Compensation

You might be able to claim compensation if you were the victim of a violent crime. This includes if:

  • you were injured
  • a close relative died
  • you saw the crime happen to a loved one (or were there immediately afterwards)
  • you paid for the funeral of a person who died

You usually have to claim within 2 years of the crime. The crime must be reported to the police before you apply. It does not cost anything to apply.

The Victim Care and Advice Service can help you in making a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Frequently asked questions

Support In Court

Can I attend the initial hearing even though I’m not required?

You can attend, although initial hearings are very short hearings and are when the Magistrates decide if the case will remain at the Magistrates Court or if it will be sent to the Crown Court.

Support In Court

Can I take someone with me?

Yes, you can take someone with you on the day for support.

Support In Court

Can I visit the court beforehand?

A visit to the court beforehand is recommended. The Witness Service will show you around the court and will do this before the trial date. We can make a referral for you to the Witness Service if this is something you require

Support In Court

Do I have to go?

Getting a witness warning means you will have to go to court on the day of the trial and give evidence if you're asked to. We are here to offer advice; support and help with any concerns you may have about giving evidence.

Support In Court

How long will a case take to go to court?

This is different for each and every investigation and can sometimes take in excess of 12 months, the Victim Care and Advice Service can provide you with support throughout the entire Criminal Justice process, from your report of the crime to the police, to court and beyond if that is required.

Any Questions

If you have any questions about our services please do not hesitate to contact us