A new website has been launched responding to concerns that young people are “confused and intimidated” by the criminal justice system in England and Wales.
Victim Support has created the site – www.youandco.org.uk – after research showed that under-18s often do not report crimes and are scared of testifying in court.
The site looks at different types of crime, how children and young people can feel after becoming a crime victim, and what they can do if they want to get some support – with or without going to the police. It includes an interactive courtroom, which features explanations and further information about the procedures a young witness might encounter. It includes answers to questions such as what you can take with you to court, where you would stand in the courtroom and who does what.
It also includes information about testifying from behind a screen, via live link away from the courtroom, or if young witnesses needed an interpreter or intermediary to support them.
The information is based on Victim Support’s experience of running the country’s only specialist service supporting young witnesses
The charity’s Young Witness Services are based in Essex and Hertfordshire, Greater Manchester, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex, South Yorkshire, and Thames Valley. All other young witnesses are supported by its Witness Service in all courts in England and Wales.
The launch has come after a report for Victim Support in December found that only three in 20 violent crimes against children are reported, despite some involving serious injuries, and that some young people perceive crimes including robbery, theft and assault as a “normal part of growing up”.
The report called for more to be done to educate young people about crime prevention and what to do if they are the victim of crime.
This followed 2009 research from the NSPCC which showed that many young people were scared to testify in court, this was partly because they did not know what to expect.
The site also includes short videos of victims talking honestly about the impact a crime has on them.
Daniel, 14, witnessed a fight between a 17-year-old boy from his estate and two others who he recognised. He talks on the site about how the experience affected him. All of the victims’ stories are based on real events but are played by actors.
Amanda Naylor from Victim Support said: “It’s so important that there is somewhere, like this website, setting it out in a way that makes sense to children and young people. We planned and developed this website in collaboration with a panel of under-18s as we wanted to make sure it would work for them.”
Victim Support is an independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. Visit www.victimsupport.org.uk
CAPTION: Victim Support: The website features an interactive courtroom offering crucial information to victims of crime