Will I need to give evidence in court?
To make a successful case against an antisocial customer, we need to give the court lots of evidence. This means that we need to have enough evidence to show that it's ‘more likely than not’ that the person committed the antisocial behaviour. Whether we succeed or not will always depend on the specific case and the judge who's hearing it.
The best type of evidence is always ‘first-hand’ evidence given directly to the judge in court. We need to convince the judge that action is needed, and to do this we must show exactly how bad the situation is and the effect it has been having on people. This also gives the judge the chance to ask any questions they need to get a clearer picture.
If the witness is not there, a vital piece of evidence could be missed.
We encourage customers who want to take action against antisocial behaviour, and we give them as much support as we can. People are often nervous or worried about giving evidence in court against an antisocial neighbour. However, sometimes it is the only way to deal with serious antisocial behaviour.
We can only get the best results with your help and courage, so we'll do everything we can to support you every step of the way. Here are some things to think about when deciding whether or not you want to go to court as a witness:
- How serious is the problem for you?
- Is the situation likely to get any better if you don’t do anything about it?
- Have you already tried all the non-legal options (such as mediation) and have we done all we can to sort things out?
- Are you prepared to see it through to the end, even if things don’t go the way you want them to?
- Are you prepared for possible delays? This is common when cases go to court and there's nothing we can do to stop it. However, we'll always do all we can to support witnesses and make sure no one is put at any risk.
- Are you prepared to be questioned in court by a barrister, a judge and possibly the person who has been causing the problems, and stand your ground?
This may make it all sound very worrying but these are the worst things that might happen. Most people find that going to court is worth it, to help stop unacceptable behaviour and make their community a nicer place to live.
What we can do to support you
We know the stress and worry that going to court as a witness can cause. However, we also know from experience how rewarding it can be. Once you decide to become a witness, we'll support you throughout the process in the following ways:
- We can support you and make sure you feel comfortable and safe when the case goes to court
- We can provide and pay for transport to and from court, as well as expenses for refreshments and childcare
- We can arrange for our legal team to tell you what to expect, and arrange for you to visit the court with one of our team before the case comes up. This is so you can get used to the court and what goes on there
- We can look at your security needs and, if we need to, we can get an injunction, which is a court order that gives the police the power to arrest the person responsible for the antisocial behaviour if they threaten or harass you
- We can arrange for you to meet one of our customers who have previously given evidence
- We can work with the Police and tell them about possible intimidation of witnesses. If it is appropriate, we can ask for a police alarm to be fitted to your home
- We can refer you to the national Victim Support service
- We can arrange for you to have access to a 24-hour helpline where trained advisors will give you support
- We can arrange one-to-one counselling sessions to help you if you need it
- We can arrange translation services or an interpreter.
You can find more information about giving evidence in court, including practical information about the process of giving evidence, on the Crown Prosecution Service website.