A SCHEME to help court witnesses has been launched in Cheshire.
The aim is to reduce the number of cases that stall because of witnesses refusing to testify.
Her Majesty’s Courts Service (HMCS) has developed an interactive, multilingual and animated DVD to help witnesses and victims understand their crucial role in the court process.
Entitled Going to Court: A step by step guide to being a witness, it is an easy-to-follow animation seen through the eyes of a witness.
It has separate routes for prosecution and defence witnesses to follow at their own pace and witnesses can also take a virtual tour of a magistrates, Crown or youth court.
There is a frequently asked questions section at the end.
The DVD can be viewed in English (with subtitles), Welsh (also with subtitles), Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and British Sign Language all on one disc.
Shaun McNally, area director of HMCS for Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “The DVD goes a long way to demystify the court process in a clear and helpful way, promoting confidence among those facing a court appearance.
“More confident witnesses will mean a decrease in the number of court trials that stall because witnesses refuse to testify.”
Peter Fahy, Cheshire’s chief constable and chairman of the Cheshire Criminal Justice Board, said: “The DVD is a useful source of information for any witness who has to go to court and I expect that it will lead to a dramatically improved quality of service for victims and witnesses.”
The animation can also be viewed online at video.direct.gov.uk/goingtocourtvideo, where it will be available in the same languages as the DVD as well as Polish.
If you are a witness and would prefer to watch this video on DVD, rather than online, you can ask for a copy from your witness care officer (if you are a prosecution witness) or your defence lawyer (if you are a defence witness).
Alternatively, you can contact the Witness Service at any local criminal court and ask them for a copy.
Those witnesses who do not have access to a DVD player at home or elsewhere will be able to watch the DVD either by themselves or with the Witness Service in the witness waiting rooms at each Crown or magistrates court.