DVD helps prepare witnesses

A new DVD is now being made available to witnesses in criminal court cases in a bid to demystify how the court system works. The DVD aims to stop so many witnesses failing to attend court because of fear, concern and confusion about what will happen.

Mar 9, 2006
By David Howell

A new DVD is now being made available to witnesses in criminal court cases in a bid to demystify how the court system works. The DVD aims to stop so many witnesses failing to attend court because of fear, concern and confusion about what will happen.

The 30 minute film, Going to Court: Witnesses, takes victims and witnesses on a step-by-step journey through the court process. The video takes them through the whole process from making a statement to after the trial. It’s hoped this will improve confidence and knowledge about their rights and responsibilities.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman said: “This is a great idea. Most people have a TV and DVD player so this is a simple and easy way to help people, particularly those who have communication difficulties and problems with written information. The content is presented in a non-threatening and user-friendly way using animation and simple language, and victims and witnesses should be able to view the DVD alone without the need for professional support.

“Helping victims and witnesses to better understand what’s going to happen to them in court through television should boost their confidence enough so that they turn up at court when they’re supposed to. Technology is already widely used in the court system to improve the delivery of justice, especially for jurors and child witnesses. This latest move is in line with the Government’s pledge to put witnesses at the heart of justice, encouraging more people to come forward to provide evidence often crucial to the outcome of a case.”

Prosecution witnesses will receive the DVD through Witness Care Units and the Witness Service. Defence witnesses will get a copy via their solicitor or at any of the Nottingham courts involved. Paul Fawcett, Head of Communications at Victim Support, said: “We know from supporting thousands of witnesses every year through our Witness Service just how anxious many people are at the prospect of going to court. In many cases, simple and straightforward information is enough to reassure people and make their experience so much more bearable. This DVD is a very welcome addition to the help on offer.”

Produced in English and Hindi, copies of the DVD are available to witnesses due to appear at the Crown, magistrates’ and youth courts in Nottingham. It’s part of a study running until May to test the use of television in delivering education and information, particularly for vulnerable people.

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