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Giving a Witness Statement

The criminal justice system cannot work without witnesses. Witnesses are the most important element in bringing offenders to justice.

  • Who will read my statement?

    • Everyone involved with the case (for example the police, the prosecutors, the defence and the judge of the court), may read the content of your statement. Your personal details - such as address and phone number - will not be disclosed.
  • Will I be told what is happening in the case?

    • The police are improving procedures to keep victims and witnesses up to date with what is happening, but it is not always possible to do this in every case. You can contact the police at any time if you have any questions or concerns.
    • You will be contacted if you are needed to go to court (but it may be sometime after you gave your statement as cases take time to prepare).
    • Victims of crime are usually told:
      • if the suspect is charged
      • about bail and what happens at court
      • if the case does not proceed for any reason
    • But witnesses (who are not victims of the crime) might not be contacted again if:
      • the suspect admits the offence and is cautioned or pleads guilty at court
      • there is not enough evidence to prosecute the suspect
      • no suspect is identified
  • Who can I contact?

    • Initially you should contact the officer who has taken your statement. He or she should have written his or her name or number down for you. As matters progress the investigation might be handed to another officer.
    • The officers may provide you with a crime reference number (this will not be known at the very early stages of the investigation).
  • Is there anything else I can do?

    • Yes, it is important to tell the police:
      • if you have left anything out of your statement or if it is incorrect
      • if your address or phone number changes (trials can collapse because witnesses cannot be contacted in time)
      • dates when you may not be able to go to court.
  • Will I have to go to court?

    • You will only have to go to court if the defendant
      • denies the charge and pleads 'not guilty'
    • or
      • pleads guilty but denies an important part of the offence which might affect the type of sentence he or she receives
    • If you are asked to go to court, the prosecution and defence lawyers will ask you questions about your evidence. You will be able to read your statement to refresh your memory first but you are not allowed to take the statement in to court with you.
    • If you have given a statement and are then asked to go to court to give evidence, you must do so. You will be given a court warning slip telling you when and where to go.
  • Where will the case be heard?

    • Most cases are heard by the judge in the Magistrate's Court.
    • Trials for more serious crimes are held in the Royal Court.

The officer dealing with the case may be able to advise you where the case will be heard

  • What will happen if i don't go to court?

    • If you have any problems or concerns about going to court, you must let the police know as soon as possible.
    • If you have to go to court but there is a reason to believe that you will not go voluntarily, the court may order you to attend.
  • What if someone tries to intimidate me?

    • It is a criminal offence to intimidate a witness or anyone helping the police in an investigation. If you are harassed or threatened in any way before, during or after the trial, you should tell the police immediately.
  • Will the suspect or the defence lawyer be given my address?

    • No, your address is recorded on the back of your witness statement and the defendant or his or her advocate only receives a copy of the front of the statement. Also, witnesses are not usually asked to give their address out loud in court. The defendant or his or her advocate is normally told the names of any witnesses.
  • Who can give me support?

    • There is a free and confidential Witness Service, run by Victim support, and you can contact them before the trial. The Witness Service's trained volunteers can offer:
      • information on what happens at court
      • emotional support and someone to talk to in confidence
      • someone to go into the courtroom with you when you give evidence
      • a visit to the court before the trial and, where possible, a look around a courtroom so you know what to expect
      • they will advise/update you on the outcome of the case
    • The Bailiwick of Guernsey Victim Support and Witness Service does not discuss evidence or give legal advice. They can be contacted on (01481) 713000.

 

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