Extra help to be a witness

Last updated: 7 August 2017

It's not unusual for people to feel anxious about giving evidence in court.

You might not know what to expect, or feel nervous about seeing other people involved in the case.

Talking to your family and friends can help. You can also bring someone along on the day for support.

Help and support at court

It's important to remember that you're doing an important job as a witness. There are people and support organisations that can give you help and support about the court process and giving evidence in court.

If you're worried about giving evidence, speak to the person who asked you to be a witness. There are things you can ask for to make being a witness easier, like:

  • using a different door to other people to go into court, so you don't have to see them
  • using a different waiting room before you go into court
  • having someone meet you at the door to the courtroom, so you don't have to be on your own
  • having breaks when you need to in court
  • going on a court familiarisation visit, so you know what to expect

Special measures to help you give evidence

The court can take extra steps (called 'special measures') to help vulnerable witnesses give the best evidence they can.

You're automatically entitled to use certain special measures (this means the court must allow you to use them) if:

The special measures you're automatically entitled to use are:

  • a screen in the courtroom
  • a TV link to somewhere outside the courtroom
  • a supporter who can sit with you while you give evidence

You'll be asked which of these special measures you'd prefer to use. Other special measures (such as asking for the court to be closed to the public) are available too, but only if you apply to the court (the person who asked you to be a witness applies on your behalf).

You also have the right to apply to use special measures (this means the person who asked you to be a witness will need to ask the court if you can use them) if:

  • the quality of your evidence might be affected because you have a mental illness or you find giving evidence stressful
  • you're at risk of harm because you're giving evidence or are to give evidence

Speak to the Witness Service, the Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service or the person who asked you to come to court if you want to use special measures to give evidence.