Partner Hannah Jones comments on changes in court building facilities so victims and witnesses will have their experience of going to court made easier through a number of new waiting rooms.
The experience of victims and witnesses in many courts has traditionally been that they are asked to wait in sparse, unfriendly surroundings; often little more than corridors. This has made the whole experience more intimidating and less conducive to the legal process than it could be. HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has therefore invested £80,000 in victim and witness waiting rooms in five courts across the country – making a number of changes including the addition of children’s toys.
Research conducted with court users has shown that small changes such as these can make the court experience less intimidating for some of the 156,000 victims and witnesses who give evidence each year - particularly children and the vulnerable.
The model victim and witness waiting rooms have been established at Nottingham Justice Centre, Manchester Magistrates’ Court, Newcastle Crown Court and Aldershot Justice Centre, with work ongoing at Liverpool Crown Court. They will provide a template for courts nationwide.
HMCTS worked closely with stakeholders including the Victim’s Commissioner, the Witness Service and court users to identify areas across the estate to develop and analyse the best way to support victims and witnesses through the court process. This work informed how the rooms were developed, and they will now be used as models for further estate changes.
Hannah, comments “We welcome the HMCTS’ initiative. The court process can be a traumatic experience for victims and any attempt to make this environment less impersonal and more comfortable is definitely a positive step”.
If you would like to know more or need help with criminal defence, call Hannah on 023 9282 0747 for further information.