Citizens Advice has called for consistent and high-quality support for victims of crime and witnesses.
The charity, which runs the Witness Service, has also highlighted the importance of police identifying victims of domestic abuse.
A new report published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has found that some vulnerable victims and witnesses are being let down by an inconsistent approach to the management of criminal case files.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Victims of crime and witnesses need to have consistent and high quality support from start to finish in the justice system. Giving evidence in court can be incredibly stressful for witnesses or victims, especially when they are vulnerable or have suffered from domestic abuse or harassment.
“The vulnerability of a victim or witness needs to be assessed as early as possible after their first contact with police and the right support needs to be available throughout any investigation and trial. Consistent and high quality support includes measures, such as video links, which help victims and witnesses to give the best evidence.
“The police can be the first contact that victims of domestic abuse have with the justice system and it is therefore also important that they know how to identify victims and recommend specialist help. For some victims, whether the abuse is recognised and recorded by police can make a difference in whether they are able secure legal aid to separate from their abuser or protect their children in the family court.”