Home Office circular 064 / 2003
The new leaflet ‘Giving a witness statement to the police - what happens next?’
Broad subject: Justice
Issue date: Thu Jan 08 00:00:00 GMT 2004
CRIMINAL JUSTICE GROUP Justice and Witnesses Unit
No Linked Circulars
Copies sent to:
The Chief Crown Prosecutor ,The Clerk to the Crown Court ,The Clerk to the Justices ,The Justices’ Chief Executive of the Magistrates’ Court Committee ,The Justices’ Clerks’ Society ,The Law Society,The Magistrates’ Association ,Chief Executive,Victim Support
Sub category: Witnesses
Implementation date: Fri Dec 17 00:00:00 GMT 2004
For more info contact:
Andrea Dias 020 7273 4002
Chief Officers of Police (England and Wales)
- This circular encloses a copy of the new leaflet ‘Giving a witness statement to the police - what happens next?’. This leaflet has been developed to support witnesses at the point they make a statement, or as soon afterwards as practicable.
- Last year the Home Office commissioned research by Central Office of Information (COI) Communications into the information requirements of witnesses. COI’s report indicated that there was a gap, in that witnesses received little or no information between the time their statement was taken and the point at which they received a witness warning letter. At the same time the Inter-Agency Working Group on Witnesses, which reported in May 2003, expressed its concern about the lack of information material for witnesses. The leaflet has been produced in response to these findings.
Piloting the leaflet
3. The leaflet was piloted by the Metropolitan Police in two London Boroughs for a four-week period over the summer. Police officers in these two areas were asked to give the leaflet to witnesses after they had taken a statement. The aims of the pilot were to determine:
o whether witnesses found the leaflet useful;
o what police officers thought about the leaflet; and
o the most effective ways of distributing it.
The results of the pilot
4. The evaluation report indicated that feedback from witnesses was generally positive. The evaluation showed that 75% of witnesses had read or looked briefly at the leaflet. Of these, 74% felt the leaflet had been helpful and 77% said that the booklet included all the information they wanted. Comments included:
‘I think it encourages more participation’
‘It’s a very good idea to give out such information and in particular the contact details of the person handling the case.’
‘It was helpful even though I’ve done this sort of thing before’
‘I would have found it particularly helpful the first time’.
However, some witnesses said that it did not answer all their questions. This has been addressed with a revised leaflet produced for national roll-out.
The feedback from police officers highlighted concerns about the practicalities of distribution, with only 25% of witnesses from who police officers took statements during the four-week pilot receiving a copy of the leaflet, and an anticipated decline rather than increase in distribution.
The way forward
7. Working with ACPO and the Manual of Guidance Editorial Board we have identified a way forward in terms of distribution. The following approach has been endorsed by both (John Broughton will be writing to Chief Constables about this within the next few weeks) and I would be grateful if you could ensure that appropriate procedures are put in place:
Those taking witness statements should be instructed to give the leaflet to the witness when the statement is taken or as soon as possible thereafter.
A tick box has been included on the back of the MG11 where those taking witness statements should indicate if the leaflet has been given to the witness. The new (2004 version) MG11 is being introduced ahead of the full 2004 suite of MG forms which will be implemented next summer. A copy of the new MG11 is also attached for information. Forces might wish to copy this to ensure active take up of the new form within areas.
Statements should be inspected by Criminal Justice Units, or equivalent, and where this tick box has not been checked, a leaflet should be posted to the witness.
Other versions of the leaflet
8. In line with other Home Office publications, the leaflet is available in Welsh. It has also been produced in Bengali, Cantonese, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Somali, Vietnamese, Greek, Turkish, and Arabic. Large text, Braille and audiotape versions are also available.
- We also intend to make the English, Welsh and minority ethnic versions of the leaflet accessible via the CJS Online website (www.cjsonline.org).
How to order
10. An initial supply of 10,000 copies of the English language version will be sent to each force area. Other versions of the leaflet will only be distributed on request. To save on the substantial distribution costs, please make subsequent orders on a quarterly basis and by force area if possible. Please note that the maximum order for the English language version of the leaflet is 10,000. The maximum order for all other versions is 100.
- Further orders should be directed to our distributors, Prolog:
Telephone: 0870 241 4680
Fax: 0870 241 4786
12. Any questions about this leaflet should be addressed to Andrea Dias, Justice and Witnesses Unit, Home Office, room 341, 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AT.(020 7273 4002, Andrea.Dias@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk).
JUSTICE AND WITNES
Giving a statement to the police (leaflet).pdf