For all victims of crime, going to court can be a daunting prospect. But for those who have suffered domestic abuse having to potentially face their abuser can be of huge concern.
However, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are well aware of the particular issues that domestic abuse cases can cause and there is specific support in place.
What is the Crown Prosecution Service?
The CPS is the organisation that brings a case to court. The police force’s role is to investigate an offence, create a case and then submit that to the CPS who then prosecute that case at court.
The CPS work closely with officers to ensure the strongest possible case is brought to court and ensure the most realistic prospect of conviction.
Often, the best person to explain to a jury what has occurred is the person who has been the victim in the case. They are able to explain in their own words what occurred and who carried out the crime.
Does that mean I need to attend court?
The simple answer is: possibly.
The CPS has a proactive approach to building a case that means that a victim does not have to attend court. That includes the use of police body-worn video and 999 calls where appropriate.
Where a victim is required to attend court there are a number of measures that can be put in place to ensure that the evidence is given in a way that minimises the impact on the person giving evidence.
This can include:
Screens to shield the witness from the defendant
A live video link to enable the witness to give evidence from a separate room
Evidence in private, with the court cleared of the public and most journalists
The CPS, along with the police, work closely with Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) who support victims of abuse who are at high risk from the initial point of crisis, throughout the court process and beyond. The CPS also has trained domestic abuse prosecutors across England and Wales.
There are a number of specialist support agencies which can provide assistance to victims in many areas of England and Wales. These may include: outreach workers, refuge provision, Women's Aid, Refuge, Victim Support Volunteers and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs).
Witness Care Units will also provide you with up-to-date information about how the case is progressing and ensure that your specific needs are considered throughout.
Find out more about the support for victims of domestic abuse
If you are a victim or are concerned about a loved one, neighbour or colleague and want free, confidential advice and support call 0800 198 668 for those in Derbyshire and 07812 300 927 for those in Derby city.
How to keep internet activity secret
An element of domestic abuse may include the abuser checking your phone or computer.
If you are accessing support websites then this is best done on a computer that the abuser does not have access to, at work or a local library for instance.