Am I a witness?

What support can I get?

There are laws and special measures that make being a young witness in Court an easier and safer experience. 

These laws and special measures ensure that young witnesses (under 16) have their safety, privacy and general well-being appropriately protected.

Here are some examples:

  • The right to have a support person present (at their side), while they give evidence. This person can be someone from the Witness Service, a social worker, a teacher, a family member. His/her presence is aimed at reducing the witnesses' worries and promoting their confidence and safety while giving evidence. Remember that the support person cannot help you answer any questions and cannot tell you what to say in Court.
  • The right to prepare to go to Court. The witnesses can ask the Court for help from someone with experience and training in supporting and preparing witnesses before the trial (for example, the Witness Service).This may include:
    • Visiting the Courtroom before the trial (to understand who will be there on the day of the Trial, where each person will be sitting – the Judge, the lawyers, the accused, the Jury;…).
    • Explaining legal terms used during the Trial (for example: accused, evidence, adjournment, sentence, acquittal, conviction) and the rules and behaviours to follow in a Trial.
  • The right to not be in the presence of the accused, the witnesses for the accused and the public in the room:
    • Giving evidence by a TV link: the witness can be heard in a different room rather than in the Courtroom; it is a small room, where the only people present are the witness and a support person. The Judge and lawyers hear, see and speak with the witness through a camera and a microphone.
    • Giving evidence from behind a screen in the Courtroom. The screen is like a curtain that divides the Court room. It means you don’t have to see the accused person. You will still be able to see the Judge, the lawyers and other Court staff. You have the right to have a support person with you.
    • Taking evidence by a commissioner. The Court might decide that you should describe what you know about what happened at a different time and a different place from the other witnesses (e.g. before the trial). The commissioner is like a Judge; there will also be other people present. You are allowed to have a support person with you.
  • The right to the protection of personal information and to not have the evidence given in Court published in the media. The Judge may ban the journalists attending the Trial from publishing information about what happened in the Trial and about the people participating in it. This protects the identity and safety of the witnesses.
  • The right not to have to state several times what was already said about what happened:
    • The witness statement to the police may be recorded and used in the Trial. The video or tape can be played to the lawyers and other people in Court or the notes can be read out. If that happens, you might be asked to watch or listen. Then you might be asked questions about what you said. This is called prior statements.  This means the witness is not “forced” to repeat what he/she has said in another place and to other people.


Click here to visit the Court on your computer. You will hear with more detail about these special measures.