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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about policing or the law? You may be able to find the answer here.

Through our frequently asked questions section we aim to help you find the answers you need without having to call us to ask for information. We've provided answers to questions on a range of topics which are regularly asked of police forces up and down the country.

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There are a number of measures that can be used for any vulnerable or intimidated witness. Some people are automatically classed as vulnerable:

  • Children under the age of 17 at time of giving evidence;
  • Any person suffering from a mental disorder;
  • Any person suffering from a learning disability;
  • Any person who is physically disabled;
  • Any witness whose evidence is likely to be diminished through fear or distress.

The police have the responsibility of notifying the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at the earliest possible stage of any measures that may be required. The CPS will then make an application to the Court for a Special Measure Direction and the Court will decide if the measures would improve the quality of the witness's evidence.

The possible special measures are:

  • Screening the witness from the accused;
  • Giving evidence through a live link;
  • Giving evidence in private;
  • Removal of wigs and gowns;
  • Use of communication aids;
  • Video recording of interview used as evidence;
  • Examination of the witness through a third party.

You will not be prevented from being seen by the Judge or Justices, jury (if there is one), legal representatives, interpreter or other persons appointed to assist the witness.For further help and information please see the websites in related information. There is also a link to the 'Help for Victims' website and a Youtube guide to the website.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.