MP stands up for vulnerable witnesses

STEPHEN Metcalfe, local MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, rose on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday to ask the Solicitor-General what steps are being taken support vulnerable witnesses and victims involved in abuse cases.

The Solicitor-General, Oliver Heald QC MP, informed the House that The Crown Prosecution Service takes allegations of sexual abuse and domestic violence very seriously and ensures that prosecutors are well equipped to handle those cases. He commented on the vital role of witness care units before adding that the Director of Public Prosecutions will shortly publish final guidelines on prosecuting cases of child sexual abuse.

The local MP pushed Mr Heald further by asking him to look at what more can be done to support those who have been the victims of psychological or emotional abuse.

In response, the Solicitor-General stated: “He is right that it is important to support such victims and witnesses, which is what the witness care units do. In addition, there is a range of guidance for prosecutors on issues such as the provision of therapy to vulnerable and intimidated witnesses. With regard to victims who have suffered mental trauma, there is guidance on how to help victims and witnesses with mental health issues, and the CPS also contributed to the Mind toolkit.”

Mr Metcalfe commented: “Mental trauma is often invisible but the debilitating impact on victims’ lives cannot be underestimated. It is vital that more is done to support vulnerable people in these situations and I am pleased that the Government are working on this.”

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