Skip to main content

PCC visits Llangefni to see a new facility that is helping to bring justice closer to victims

Date

22 July 2022
Gorwel1

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin visited Llangefni on July 20 to see a new facility that is enabling victims and witnesses in domestic abuse and sexual violence cases to give evidence via live link, away from court buildings. The Remote Evidence Site means victims of crime can give evidence in an environment that is closer to their home, and which offers a less intimidating setting than a traditional courtroom.

New Remote Evidence Sites were one of the objectives for the All-Wales Criminal Justice Board, and the North Wales Criminal Justice Board, over the course of 2021-22. As a result of Welsh Government funding, three remote evidence sites have been created in North Wales and have recently begun being used to give evidence.

The site in North-East Wales is hosted by DASU North Wales in Wrexham and is based at the One Stop Shop. The sites in North-West Wales are in Llangefni and Dolgellau and are based within One Stop Shops hosted by Gorwel, the organisation that provides services to support people suffering domestic abuse or support people at risk of losing their homes and prevent homelessness in the area. The sites piloted their first criminal trial in February 2022, and the first Family Court case was piloted in March 2022.

Gorwel2

Andy Dunbobbin’s visit to Llangefni came during national Antisocial Behaviour Awareness Week 2022. While at the site in Ffordd yr Efail the Commissioner toured the facility, met the team at the centre, and heard how support is given to victims and witnesses. He spoke to Rhiannon Edwards, Regional Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Advisor for North Wales, about how the project came about, how it is working as part of the All-Wales model, how funding was arranged and how the project will be sustained.

All sites have been equipped with the necessary IT facilities and been furnished according to the requirement of the courts. All have security on the entrance to the building, as well as the room itself and there are facilities in place for the witness, or witnesses, to wait when necessary.

Any witness being supported by an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor or Independent Sexual Violence Advisor will have support from them in the safe evidence suite. Referrals can also be made to the Witness Service, who will support the witness at a pre-trial visit and at the trial itself. In addition to use in criminal cases, the suites can be used to support witnesses in Family Court proceedings, with the agreement of the Court.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin commented: “It was a pleasure to visit the Llangefni Remote Evidence Site today and to hear about the support being given to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence and to see what is being done to make their experience of giving evidence as stress-free and comfortable as possible.

“My Police and Crime Plan has supporting victims and communities and tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence at its heart, and I am determined to ensure all victims receive the smoothest path to justice possible. Courts can be intimidating places and Remote Evidence Sites mean that women and other victims can give evidence closer to their home and family and in a supportive and safe environment. I hope all three sites across North Wales will prove valuable in getting the justice victims deserve.”

Rhiannon Edwards, Regional Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Advisor for North Wales, commented: “Giving evidence in court can be a an intimidating and often upsetting process, this is particularly so for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Alongside the understandable trauma associated with being forced to relive their experiences of abuse, victims and witnesses are forced to face not only the perpetrator, but their friends and family, which can lead to re-traumatisation.

“The provision of special measures for vulnerable witnesses is positive, but still involves the victims having to attend the court building. The provision of safe evidence suites within the One Stop Shops in their local communities goes a long way to making this process more victim-focused and ultimately safer for them”.

If anyone has experienced violence against women, domestic abuse or sexual violence, please contact the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 info@livefearfreehelpline.wales