Recently a number of ISVAs have asked whether a victim can meet the prosecutor who will be presenting their case before the matter goes to trial i.e. before the trial date.
In some areas, although this has been encouraged by the ISVAs, the police have intimated that counsel (ie the prosecutor) is unhappy for this to happen and as a result they are openly discouraging such meetings. This view is at variance with the CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Rape.
That policy directs that where it is intended to apply for special measures for a witness, the CPS should ask the police to find out if the witness would like to meet the prosecutor. The policy goes on to explain that the purpose of such a meeting is to build trust and confidence and to enable the prosecutor to reassure the witness that their needs will be taken into account.
Likewise the policy also indicates that on the day of trial the prosecutor presenting the case should speak to victims and witnesses before they give evidence and try to put them at ease and to explain the court process to them.
However it is important to note that in those meetings prosecutors are not permitted to discuss the detail of the case with a witness.
It is also recognised as good practice, wherever possible, to coordinate the victim’s court familiarisation visit with their special measures meeting and the conference with counsel so that the victim may meet the trial advocate ahead of the trial.
So, given the above, if this practice is discouraged in the future, please use CPS policy to further your argument in favour of the meeting.
A full copy of the policy can be found at http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/rape.html