£24 million Grant to Support Witnesses at Court
The Ministry of Justice has committed £12 million a year to support witnesses through the criminal court system with the award of a new grant.
From 1 April 2015, Citizens Advice will be offering practical and emotional support at more than 300 courts across England and Wales. In 2013-2014 almost 200,000 witnesses received support at criminal courts. The support helps witnesses give their best possible evidence during criminal trials by explaining court procedures, giving updates on the progress of the case, and advice and practical help connected to giving evidence.
Citizens Advice will take over the service from Victim Support. We would like to thank Victim Support which has established and provided an excellent service in courts over many years; in particular we would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff and volunteers who support witnesses on a daily basis.
Victims Minister Mike Penning said: “Witnesses play a crucial role in our courts but without the right support and information it can be an intimidating process”.
“It is vital that people with important evidence know what to expect before entering the court room, and it is right that this money goes towards improving their experience and ensuring help is in place.
“This funding will go a long way to maintaining and improving the excellent work delivered by Witness Service staff and volunteers on a daily basis. I know Citizens Advice will deliver a first-class service.”
Citizens Advice was awarded the grant following an open competition. This is the first time that the Witness Service grant has been open to competition, and reflects the Government’s commitment in its response to the “Getting it Right for Victims and Witnesses” consultation that the service would be nationally and competitively commissioned.
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