For some witnesses the process of giving evidence in court can be extremely difficult and some of them may need special help. Therefore ‘Special Measures’ have been designed and allowed by the legal system to help them take part in the trial in the best possible way.
HOMELINK – HOW IS IT DONE?
The prosecution needs to make an application to the Court, for them to grant the Special Measures. The request will be considered and the Court will then decide whether to approve or refuse the application.
In the meantime, contact Eyenetwork and provide us with the details of the case. We will need to know the date, start time and estimated duration of the call. You will also need to provide us with the address of the witness and it is helpful if you can confirm if there is stable internet at the location. We will then send out the quote with all the details and check the schedule for our technician to travel to the location.
WHY USE THE HOMELINK?
The home link service provided by Eyenetwork is specifically designed to help vulnerable witnesses who are unable to attend court in person. There are a lot of people who are elderly or suffer from a disability which prevents them from attending a hearing in person. It is important to understand that many times, these people are very important witnesses and their testimony can dramatically affect the outcome of a trial.
With our homelink service a specially trained technician will travel to the location and set up the video connection for the witness. He will bring all the necessary technology, including internet, if the coverage in the area is not sufficient. The technician will also remain on site for the duration of the call, assisting and troubleshooting any issues if necessary. A police officer and sometimes a carer are also present to provide the necessary support.
Our homelink technician Tancrede Bonnard explains how important obtaining this evidence can be:
“Upon arriving at the care homes or the witness’ residence it is quickly apparent why the home link solution is requested: the witness is often immobile or extremely vulnerable & it is very obvious that attending court is not possible for them. I often arrive and am greeted by a witness care or police officer: this is a great relief for me as they are able to brief & support the witness throughout the ordeal. On some occasions I arrive and there is no professional support, meaning the witness is unprepared or unsure of the court process & procedures. This is obviously not ideal as it causes additional stress & this is why we strongly recommend that someone is on site to provide support to the witness to ensure better evidence is obtained. Before I connect the link, I always brief the witness on the process & explain what they will see on the screen. As these cases are very distressing for the witness, they are often very anxious that they will see the defendant. I am quick to explain & reassure them that they will not see the defendant or the jury and that all they need to do is answer the questions posed to them, as clearly & concisely as possible.”
“Once the witness has been briefed & I have ensured that they are comfortably seated, the anxiety often passes within a few minutes of the video link commencing. Every Homelink I have attended has resulted in a very relieved witness & we often hear of a positive outcome for the prosecution. Many criminals on trial would not be convicted of the crimes they are accused of because the witnesses would be unable to give evidence against them in court. It is highly satisfying to know that these criminals are convicted thanks to our expertise & our ability to provide the witness with a platform to have their voice heard & the opportunity to move on with their lives after their ordeal”.
OTHER JUDICIAL VIDEO SOLUTIONS
In addition to the service we offer for vulnerable witnesses, we also provide other solutions to link to UK courts.
We can instruct the witness to travel a video conferencing venue (if there is a facility available near their location). The witness just needs to arrive at the venue 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start time, and they will be shown to the video conference room. The staff at the location will look after the witness whilst Eyenetwork takes care of the video link connection and monitoring the call!
If we have no venues nearby we can also offer the laptop link service where we connect the witness from their own personal device. All they need is a stable internet connection and a device with a working camera and microphone. This can be a laptop, iPad or even a smartphone. The laptop link is a frequently used service with the UK courts, as it is easy to set up and causes minimal disruption, as well as being a very cost effective solution.
For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us on 01273 32 4422