Going to court

The case will go to court if someone is arrested and charged by the police. You will be assigned a witness care officer who will take care of you through to the end of the case.

You can ask them any questions and they will keep you up-to-date about what is happening with your case, including details of court hearings and whether the suspect has been released on bail or is being held in custody.

You may be asked to be a witness in court to speak about what has happened. We want you to be able to give your best evidence and it’s natural to feel worried or nervous.

If you have been called to court, the Witness Service, run by the Citizens Advice Bureau, can help you. They can provide or arrange a pre-trial visit to the court, explain what to expect and support you at any court appearance.

At court you can ask if you are able to wait in an area away from the suspect, their friends and family.

If you do not understand or speak English you can ask for an interpretation into a language you understand to help you give evidence during criminal proceedings.

Special measures

Vulnerable or intimidated victims and witnesses can be considered for special measures at court which may include:

  • A screen around the witness box so that you do not see the suspect or their family when answering questions.
  • The opportunity to give evidence by live video link so that you do not have to be in the same room where the trial is taking place.
  • The judge and lawyers being asked to remove their wigs and gowns to make you more comfortable.
  • Support from an intermediary to help you understand and answer the questions being asked.

The court will make the final decision about whether you are eligible for special measures during the trial and your witness care officer will discuss this with you.

Protection against intimidation

It is a criminal offence to intimidate anyone helping the police in an investigation. Contact the police immediately if you are harassed or threatened during an investigation or trial.

Victims and witnesses are also protected against witness intimidation for up to a year after the conclusion of a trial. If the offender is remanded in custody, released on bail or convicted the court can issue a restraining order.

What happens after the court case?

The Witness Care Unit will notify you of the result of any court case. If the suspect is found guilty you will be told what the sentence means.

When someone is sent to prison they pass into the care of the Prison Service.

Sometimes the suspect will appeal against the sentence or the conviction. This is when they ask for the judge’s decision to be changed or for the sentence to be reduced. If the offender is allowed to appeal you will be told where and when the appeal hearing will take place.


Contact centre
Devon & Cornwall Police
Police Headquarters
Middlemoor, Exeter

Tel: 101
Textphone: 67101 sms/text number for the deaf/hard hearing/speech impaired
Tel: 18001 101 Minicom/Textphone

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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