https://insidehmcts.blog.gov.uk/2017/03/03/digital-defence-ndpwg-update-november-2016/

Digital defence: NDPWG update November 2016


[English] - [Cymraeg]

On 24 November 2016 I chaired the National Digital Practitioners’ Working Group.

Rhiannon Evans from Supporting Justice was our guest speaker on behalf of Citizen’s Advice. Rhiannon kindly volunteered to attend to support their campaign to improve the experience of defence and prosecution witnesses in the Criminal Justice System.

For those defence practitioners who were unable to attend I’ve included a video below of Rhiannon’s talk on the important support services available to witnesses and defence practitioners:

Witness Service

The Witness Service provides independent support and information to allow both defence and prosecution witnesses to give their best evidence. Here’s how the service plays an important role in the Criminal Justice System:

a preparation service which includes contacting witnesses in advance of trial to talk them through the process of giving evidence

the opportunity to visit an empty courtroom before the trial day and familiarise themselves with what it will be like when they give evidence

support and information while they’re at court for the trial and help with claiming expenses

an outreach service for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses who may need a higher level of preparation and support. This includes preparation sessions at the witness’s home or a community location as appropriate

All of this is provided free of charge in every criminal court in England and Wales.

Benefits of the Witness Service

Some of the main benefits of the service that Rhiannon was keen to highlight included:

  • 180,000 witnesses supported to give their best evidence last year
  • 2,300 volunteers give up their time every week to support witnesses
  • 93% of witnesses using the service are satisfied or very satisfied
  • 80% of witnesses we support felt less worried and better able to give evidence

Please see my earlier Inside HMCTS blog post for more reason why using the Witness Service is important and how to make a referral.

Unable to attend court

Rhiannon provided some useful links to attendees on supporting material for those people who don’t have time to visit a court prior to the hearing:

I felt it was really important to support the campaign to raise awareness of the Witness Service. Defence witnesses are often a forgotten part of the Criminal Justice System and I was keen to dispel the myth the service is only available for prosecution witnesses.

The service they offer to witnesses is invaluable. I had a case involving an 11 year old child who had witnessed an assault, the volunteers at the court did their utmost to ensure he felt at ease in the court building and the defence witness was able to give their best evidence. This ultimately resulted in the defendant being acquitted of the charges.

Rhiannon Evans said:

It's great to have an opportunity to speak at the working group to raise awareness of the support available for all defence witnesses. Reaching to all parts of the defence community is a challenge and this group is a vital way to communicate with all defence practitioners.

If you have any questions on my blog post or would like to present at a future working group please get in touch with me by email or using the comment facility at the bottom of this page.


[English] - [Cymraeg]

Amddiffyn Digidol: Diweddariad Gweithgor Cenedlaethol yr Ymarferwyr Digidol 2016

Ar 24 Tachwedd 2016, cadeiriais gyfarfod o Weithgor Cenedlaethol yr Ymarferwyr Digidol.

Rhiannon Evans o Supporting Justice oedd ein siaradwr gwadd ar ran y Ganolfan Cyngor ar Bopeth. Yn garedig iawn, gwirfoddolodd Rhiannon i fynychu’r gweithgor i gefnogi eu hymgyrch i wella profiad tystion yr amddiffyniad a thystion yr erlyniad yn y System Cyfiawnder Troseddol.

Ar gyfer ymarferwyr yr amddiffyniad nad oedd yn gallu bod yn bresennol, rwyf wedi cynnwys fideo isod o sgwrs Rhiannon am y gwasanaethau cymorth pwysig sydd ar gael i dystion ac ymarferwyr yr amddiffyniad:

Y Gwasanaeth Tystion

Mae’r Gwasanaeth Tystion yn darparu cefnogaeth a gwybodaeth annibynnol i alluogi tystion yr amddiffyniad a thystion yr erlyniad i roi'r dystiolaeth orau bosib. Mae’r gwasanaeth yn chwarae rhan bwysig yn y System Cyfiawnder Troseddol drwy ddarparu:

  • gwasanaeth paratoi sy’n cynnwys cysylltu â thystion cyn y treial ac egluro'r broses o roi tystiolaeth
  • cyfle i ymweld ag ystafell llys wag cyn diwrnod y treial ac ymgyfarwyddo â'r ystafell a chael syniad o sut brofiad bydd rhoi tystiolaeth yno
  • cefnogaeth a gwybodaeth tra eu bod yn y llys ar gyfer y treial a chymorth gyda hawlio treuliau
  • gwasanaeth allgymorth ar gyfer tystion bregus a thystion sy’n cael eu bygwth a all fod angen rhagor o waith paratoi a chefnogaeth. Mae hyn yn cynnwys sesiynau paratoi yng nghartref y tyst neu leoliad yn y gymuned fel y bo’n briodol

Darperir pob un o'r rhain yn rhad ac am ddim ym mhob llys troseddol yng Nghymru a Lloegr.

Manteision y Gwasanaeth Tystion

Roedd rhai o brif fanteision y gwasanaeth yr oedd Rhiannon yn awyddus i dynnu sylw atynt yn cynnwys:

  • 180,000 o dystion wedi’u cefnogi i roi eu tystiolaeth orau bosib y llynedd
  • 2,300 o wirfoddolwyr yn rhoi o’u hamser bob wythnos i gefnogi tystion
  • 93% o dystion yn fodlon neu’n fodlon iawn gyda defnyddio’r gwasanaeth
  • 80% o dystion yr oeddem yn eu cefnogi yn teimlo’n llai pryderus ac yn gallu rhoi eu tystiolaeth yn well.

Gweler fy mlog blaenorol Inside HMCTS am ragor o resymau pam fod defnyddio’r Gwasanaeth Tystion yn bwysig a sut i wneud atgyfeiriad.

Methu dod i’r llys

Darparodd Rhiannon rhai dolenni defnyddiol i ddeunyddiau cefnogol ar gyfer y bobl hynny sydd ddim efo amser i ymweld â'r llys cyn y gwrandawiad:

Roeddwn yn teimlo ei fod yn hynod o bwysig i gefnogi’r ymgyrch hon i godi ymwybyddiaeth o’r Gwasanaeth Tystion. Mae pobl yn anghofio’n aml bod tystion yr amddiffyniad yn rhan o’r System Cyfiawnder Troseddol ac roeddwn yn awyddus i chwalu’r camsyniad bod y gwasanaeth ond ar gael i dystion yr erlyniad.

Mae'r gwasanaeth maent yn ei gynnig i dystion yn werthfawr iawn. Cefais achos a oedd yn ymwneud â phlentyn 11 oed a oedd wedi bod yn dyst i ymosodiad. Gwnaeth y gwirfoddolwyr yn y llys eu gorau glas i sicrhau ei fod yn teimlo’n gyfforddus yn y llys, ac o ganlyniad, roedd tyst yr amddiffyniad yn gallu rhoi ei dystiolaeth orau bosib. Yn y pen draw, arweiniodd hyn at gael y diffynnydd yn ddieuog o’r cyhuddiadau.

Dywedodd Rhiannon Evans:

“Mae'n wych cael cyfle i siarad yn y gweithgor i godi ymwybyddiaeth o’r gefnogaeth sydd ar gael i holl dystion yr amddiffyniad. Mae cyrraedd bob cwr o’r gymuned amddiffyn yn her, ac mae’r grŵp hwn yn ffordd hanfodol i gyfathrebu â holl ymarferwyr yr amddiffyniad.

Os oes gennych unrhyw gwestiynau am fy mlog, neu os hoffech wneud cyflwyniad mewn gweithgor yn y dyfodol, mae croeso ichi gysylltu â mi drwy e-bost neu wrth ddefnyddio'r cyfleuster ar gyfer gwneud sylwadau ar waelod y dudalen hon.