Monitoring witnesses

IN AN effort to improve the experience of witnesses in court, a monitoring exercise will be carried out in magistrates' courts and Crown Court centres in England and Wales.

In June, practitioners representing clients in trials will be approached by court staff for details of the number of defence and prosecution witnesses they are expecting to attend to give evidence. Witness attendance and waiting times at court will also be monitored.

Courts will be seeking this information on behalf of the Joint Performance Management (JPM) Strategy Group. It is a sub-group of the Trial Issues Group whose members compromise representatives of all agencies involved in the criminal justice system, including the Law Society and the Bar Council.

The JPM approach involves the sharing of information and the identification of areas for improvement by all agencies involved in specific areas of activity. The aim is to achieve a consensus approach to identifying and solving mutually interrelated problems.

The results of the survey will be analysed centrally and then forwarded to a network of 42 local inter-agency groups to deal with necessary follow-up action to improve the experience of court witnesses.

James A Perry

Criminal Policy Division