Citizens Advice has called for the Crown Prosecution Service to make every effort to support victims and witnesses by clearly explaining why decisions have been taken about a case, keeping them informed of where and when they are expected to give evidence, and providing information on available support.
Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) today released a report finding that letters sent by CPS sometimes give contradictory or not enough information, are not delivered on time or lack empathy for a victim’s circumstances.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Victims and witnesses of crime can be left feeling at sea in the justice system without the right support.
“For many people giving evidence in a court case it will be their first experience of the justice system, and they may be unsure of the process. That's why it is really important the Crown Prosecution Service makes sure it keeps victims and witnesses fully informed of where and when they will be expected to give evidence, and explains clearly why decisions are taken about a case. It is also vital that details of available support are provided before and during a trial. It is a particular concern that victims of domestic abuse are often not being given the information they need to access specialist support in letters sent to them.
"Seven in ten victims we help through the Witness Service do not know their rights under the Victims’ Code, including guarantees of timely information and the right to review a decision not to prosecute. This gap underlines the importance of clear communication from criminal justice agencies like the Crown Prosecution Service, so people are confident providing evidence.
“Criminal justice agencies like the police and the Crown Prosecution Service working closely together is crucial to avoid duplication and contradictory information. By giving victims and witnesses the right information, their experience of the justice system can be made empowering instead of confusing.”
Notes to editors