Annex 5 CROWN OFFICE AND PROCURATOR FISCAL SERVICE SCOTTISH COURT SERVICE JOINT STATEMENT ON CROWN WITNESSES
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Scottish Court Service are committed to upholding the principles set out in the Justice Charter for Scotland.
We have made public declarations of our standards in separate Charter Standard Statements.
Providing proper and efficient service and care to witnesses is a fundamental part of our commitment.
This Statement sets out our shared and individual responsibilities in relation to Crown witnesses.
We share responsibilities to:
1. Meet the standards set out in our respective Charter Standard Statements in relation to witnesses;
2. Treat witnesses with courtesy and deal sensitively and efficiently with their enquiries;
3. Treat all witnesses fairly and give consideration to their interests whatever their race, sex, religion, age or other special need;
4. Be particularly sensitive and responsive to the needs of vulnerable witnesses including children, witnesses with learning difficulties, witnesses with physical disabilities, deaf and dumb witnesses and witnesses who do not speak English;
5. Co-operate and liaise in the provision of pre-trial visits for vulnerable witnesses, where appropriate;
6. Co-operate and liaise in relation to sensitive cases where special arrangements may be required;
7. Co-operate and liaise to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, witnesses at court are regularly advised of the progress of their cases; and
8. Ensure that witnesses at court who are no longer required to give evidence are released as soon as possible and provided with an explanation for their release.
Procurators Fiscal will:
1. Give witnesses as much notice as possible of their requirement to attend court and, in particular, in summary cases where the accused is not in custody, will endeavour to send citations to the Police for service no less than six weeks before the trial;
2. Provide to each witness cited an explanatory leaflet about being a witness and, in particular, will provide special leaflets to child witnesses and witnesses with learning difficulties;
3. In fixing trials, have regard to the commitments of witnesses, where these are known to them;
4. Deal sympathetically with reasonable requests by witnesses to be excused;
5. Give a prompt and courteous response to witnesses' enquiries both at the office and at court;
6. Comply with the duty imposed on them by the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 Section 257 to seek agreement of evidence unlikely to be disputed;
7. So far as is reasonably practicable, serve statements of fact in relation to uncontroversial evidence, as provided by the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 Section 258;
8. Provide foreign language interpreters and sign language interpreters where required;
9. Inform the Clerk of Court of any special needs of witnesses which are known to them and which require special arrangements to be made;
10. Liaise with the Clerk of Court to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that witnesses at court are kept advised of the progress of their cases; and
11. Pay witness expenses promptly.
Clerks of Court will:
1. Ensure a clearly marked reception point for witnesses at court;
2. Provide adequate, comfortable witness accommodation, with access to a public telephone, sufficient clean toilet facilities and, where possible, refreshment facilities;
3. Liaise with Procurators Fiscal in making arrangements to meet the special needs of witnesses where these are known to them;
4. Liaise with Procurators Fiscal to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that witnesses at court are kept advised of the progress of their cases.