Witness Satisfaction: Findings From the Witness Survey 2000

Emmy Whitehead, Home Office, London

The increasing trend towards performance measurement in government and public services in England and Wales has included the criminal justice system within its ambit. The first national Witness Satisfaction Survey was designed to measure witnesses' satisfaction with their treatment by the different CJ agencies including: the police; the CPS/prosecution lawyers; defence lawyers; court staff; judges and magistrates; Victim Support (offers information, help and support to victims of crime and their families); and the Witness Service (which provides support to all witnesses). The survey covered both the prosecution and defence witnesses. About three-quarters (76%) of witnesses said they were very or fairly satisfied with their overall experience at court. Satisfaction with individual agencies was generally higher. Levels of overall satisfaction were strongly related to the amount of information given to witnesses, feelings of intimidation (personal and process), facilities at court, and waiting times. All agencies have a role to play in helping increase witness satisfaction, both with the individual agency involved, but also overall. While the experience of giving evidence will probably never be a pleasant one, there are a range of ways inw hich witnesses could be dealt with differently which may go a long way towards removing some of the factors which frighten or intimidate them.

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Updated 05/20/2006